Vogtle-4 enters commercial operation

April 29, 2024, 9:32AMNuclear News
Vogtle's Unit 4 achieves a milestone. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Unit 4 at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle has entered commercial operation, the company announced today. The new unit can produce enough electricity to power an estimated 500,000 homes and businesses, according to the company.

With all four units now in operation, Plant Vogtle, which is located near Waynesboro, Ga., is the largest nuclear generator in the nation, expected to produce more than 30 million megawatt-hours of electricity each year. The plant is operated by Southern Nuclear on behalf of co-owners that include Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.

An exciting time: “It’s an exciting time to be a Georgian as our state continues to grow and thrive, with new demand for more clean energy each year. The new Vogtle units are a key piece of our strategy to meet the energy needs of our customers not only tomorrow, but 20 years from now,” said Kim Greene, chair, president, and chief executive of Georgia Power. “As we mark the completion of the Vogtle 3 & 4 expansion, we’re grateful for the leadership and foresight of the Georgia PSC, as well as the steadfast dedication from all of the project’s co-owners. I’m also so proud of the teams who have worked tirelessly to deliver the first newly constructed nuclear units in the U.S. in more than 30 years—representing a long-term investment that will benefit our customers and the state of Georgia for decades to come.”

The background: Vogtle-4 connected to the grid on March 1, just two weeks after reaching criticality. The connection started the process of final startup testing, with operators raising reactor power at various levels while performing tests before ultimately raising power to 100 percent.

Georgia Power, the largest subsidiary of Southern Nuclear, led the Vogtle expansion. Units 3 and 4 are both Westinghouse AP1000 reactors. Unit 3 achieved commercial operations on July 31, 2023.

Construction of the units began in 2012, and the project experienced several setbacks. Vogtle-3 was expected to start generating power in 2016, with Vogtle-4 in quick succession. The plant’s price tag soared from an original cost estimate of $14 billion to more than $30 billion.

Project construction has provided billions in positive economic impact for Georgia and local communities. In addition to the 800 permanent jobs created, the sites employed more than 9,000 onsite jobs at peak construction, including engineers, welders, electricians, pipefitters, plumbers, and more.

Hallmark achievement: “The completion of the expansion of the Vogtle nuclear generation plant to include Unit 3 and now Unit 4 is a hallmark achievement for Southern Company, the state of Georgia and the entire United States,” said Chris Womack, Southern Company’s chair, president, and CEO. “Working with our partners across government, industry, labor and beyond, we have added new nuclear generation to the diverse energy resources that enhance the reliability, resiliency and affordability of our system as we work to achieve our goal to be net zero by 2050. These new Vogtle units not only will support the economy within our communities now and in the future, they demonstrate our global nuclear leadership.”

From ANS: When Vogtle-4 reached initial criticality in February, American Nuclear Society executive director/CEO Craig Piercy hailed the milestone, saying, “Vogtle is a generational investment. It’s going to be clean. It’s going to be reliable. It’s going to power a million homes and businesses, and it’s going to do it for 60 or 80 or maybe even 100 years.”

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