Southern plans second license renewal for Hatch

September 2, 2022, 7:04AMNuclear News
The twin-unit Hatch plant (Image: Southern Nuclear)

Southern Nuclear, operator of the two-unit Hatch nuclear plant, announced yesterday that it will seek subsequent license renewals (SLR) for both reactors.

The company informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its plans in an August 31 letter of intent, saying that it expects to submit the Hatch SLR application—which would be Southern’s first—in 2025. (Southern also operates the Farley and Vogtle nuclear facilities.)

Located in Baxley, Ga., and co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power Corporation, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and Dalton Utilities, Hatch houses two boiling water reactors. Both the 885-MWe Unit 1 and the 908-MWe Unit 2 are currently operating under initial 20-year license renewals, which expire in August 2034 and June 2038, respectively. Should the NRC grant the SLR applications, the units would be authorized to operate for an additional 20 years.

In July 2022, the Georgia Public Service Commission approved Georgia Power’s request to begin the multiyear process to extend Hatch’s license as part of the company’s 2022 Integrated Resource Plan, according to Southern’s announcement. A decision from the NRC on the SLR applications would be expected in the late 2020s, the company noted.

What they’re saying: “For almost 50 years, Plant Hatch has safely generated reliable, carbon-free energy, and renewing its license supports our long-standing commitment of providing clean, safe, and reliable energy to Georgia,” said site vice president Johnny Weissinger. “Beyond the production of reliable energy, as Appling County’s largest employer, we are committed to the continued support of our surrounding communities through partnerships, educational outreach, and service projects.”

In case you missed it: In a major change to its SLR process, the NRC in late February ruled that reviews of SLR applications must rely on a more extensive environmental analysis than that provided by the agency’s Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants. According to the ruling, the GEIS, properly understood, does not cover the SLR period.

As a result, the expiration dates of the operating licenses for Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point reactors and Constellation Energy’s Peach Bottom units were pulled back 20 years to the 2030s—the expiration dates of their initial license renewals—despite having been approved for SLRs in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

In June, FPL filed a report with the NRC that it hopes will satisfy the agency and reinstate the Turkey Point units’ 20-year SLR terms.

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