Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has been successfully synchronized and connected to the electric grid, Georgia Power announced on April 1. The unit—one of two Westinghouse-supplied AP1000s at the Waynesboro, Ga., plant’s nuclear expansion site—becomes the first new U.S. power reactor to start up in seven years.
According to the announcement, operators will continue to raise reactor power for electricity generation while performing tests at various power levels.
The Generation III+ unit achieved its long-awaited initial criticality on March 6 following the completion of fuel load last October. The next and final major milestone, commercial operation, is expected this May or June.
Electric moment: “What an incredibly inspiring time to join Georgia Power as we celebrate this milestone that marks the first day of generating clean, reliable power at this new nuclear unit, which will serve our customers over the next 60 to 80 years,” said Kim Greene, Georgia Power’s new chair, president, and chief executive officer. “I consider myself very fortunate to have worked on-site at Vogtle-1 and -2 early in my career as an engineer, learning so much that I have carried with me over the years, while also gaining an appreciation of the value of nuclear energy as a critical, long-term investment for our state. As we approach commercial operation for Unit 3, I know that every professional who has been involved in this project or worked at Plant Vogtle is proud of the role they have played in helping build a clean energy future for Georgia.”
Greene assumed the lead role at Georgia Power on March 31, replacing Chris Womack, who has become president and CEO of parent firm Southern Company.
Bravo! ANS Executive Director and CEO Craig Piercy offered the following congratulatory note this morning: “On behalf of the American nuclear community, we heartily applaud Vogtle-3’s connection to the grid and congratulate the men and women who made it a reality. This is a generational investment in technology that will pay economic and environmental dividends for decades. Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.”
In case you missed it: Georgia Power announced on March 20 that hot functional testing has begun for Vogtle-4. This testing, the company said, is conducted to verify the successful operation of reactor components and systems together and to confirm that the reactor is ready for fuel load. Unit 4 is projected to enter service late in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2024.
Once in full operation, Vogtle-3 and -4 are expected to power more than 500,000 homes and businesses. Southern Nuclear will operate the new units on behalf of Georgia Power and fellow co-owners Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and Dalton Utilities.