Vogtle-3 shuts down for valve issue

July 17, 2024, 11:18AMNuclear News
Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant. (Photo: George Power)

One of the new Vogtle units in Georgia was shut down unexpectedly on last week for a valve issue that has been investigated and repaired.

Southern Company spokesperson Jacob Hawkins confirmed that Vogtle-3 went off line at 9:25 p.m. on July 8 “due to lowering water levels in the steam generators caused by a valve issue on one of the three main feedwater pumps.”

Urgent imperative: The crucial role of near-term nuclear deployment

June 5, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear NewsJohn Wagner

John Wagner

As advocates for the environment, national security, and U.S. prosperity, and as believers that the substantial global expansion of nuclear energy is essential to these interests, let’s take a moment to recognize how far we have come.

In recent years, much has changed. Public opinion polls show increasingly broad support for nuclear energy, which has bipartisan and bicameral support in Congress. The U.S. is on the cusp of achievements that could usher in a new era of nuclear energy and reestablish U.S. global leadership. The prevailing question is no longer whether we need nuclear energy, but rather, how much more nuclear power do we need, how can we enable first movers, and how quickly can we deploy new reactors.

Officials celebrate Vogtle-3 and -4, hint at future Unit 5

June 3, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
Georgia Gov. Kemp and others visited the Vogtle nuclear power plant. (Photo: Gov. Brian Kemp's Office)

As he joined with other state officials and community stakeholders at a celebration last week marking the completion of Vogtle Units 3 and 4, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said there’s potential for a fifth nuclear reactor at the site.

Southern’s Tom Fanning to retire

December 18, 2023, 3:02PMNuclear News

Fanning

Tom Fanning, Southern Company board executive chairman and the man who helmed the firm during construction of the two new AP1000 reactors at Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear plant, will retire December 31, Southern has announced. His board seat will be filled by Chris Womack, who replaced Fanning as Southern’s president and chief executive officer earlier this year.

Elected by the Southern board in July 2010, Fanning became company president in August 2010 and assumed the additional responsibilities of chairman and CEO that December. During his more than 43 years with Southern, Fanning held executive roles across various business disciplines, including finance, strategy, international business development, and technology. As president, chairman, and CEO of Southern, he received numerous accolades, including being named one of the most influential leaders in the energy industry in the past 25 years.

ANS awarded Fanning a Presidential Citation at this year’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Ind.

Georgia Power to pay Vogtle co-owner for project cost overruns

October 9, 2023, 3:04PMNuclear News
Vogtle Units 3 (on left) and 4, in August. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power, primary owner of the Vogtle nuclear plant, announced last Friday that it will pay $413 million to settle a lawsuit brought against it last year by plant co-owner Oglethorpe Power Corporation.

Operations begin at IET multiloop molten-salt test system

October 6, 2023, 12:05PMNuclear News
The Integrated Effects Test at TerraPower’s laboratory in Everett, Wash. (Photo: Southern Company/TerraPower)

Southern Company, TerraPower, and Core Power (a U.K.-based firm focused on developing nuclear technologies for the maritime sector) have commenced pumped-salt operations in the Integrated Effects Test (IET) facility, the Atlanta, Ga.-based utility announced Tuesday, marking another milestone in the development of TerraPower’s first-of-a-kind, Generation IV Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR).

Final EA and proposed FONSI for MCRE released

August 1, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
The former Zero-Power Physics Reactor cell at INL’s Materials and Fuels Center could be home to the MCRE. (Photo: INL)

The Department of Energy today released its final environmental assessment (EA) and a proposed finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the design, construction, and operation of the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) at Idaho National Laboratory. The draft EA was released earlier this year, in March, for four weeks of public comments.

Vogtle-3 begins commercial operation

July 31, 2023, 12:39PMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 (Photo: Georgia Power)

To the ears of the nuclear community, the news from Georgia Power this morning may sound a bit like “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth: After years of delay, Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has entered commercial operation, becoming the first newly constructed power reactor in the United States in more than 30 years and the nation’s first Westinghouse-supplied Generation III+ AP1000 unit to be placed into service. The new unit joins Vogtle-1 and -2—1,169-MWe four-loop pressurized water reactors that entered commercial operation in the late 1980s.

Hot functional testing completed at Vogtle-4

May 3, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Vogtle-4 turbine building in March. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power has announced another key milestone for the Vogtle nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Ga.—the completion of hot functional testing at Unit 4. This achievement marks another significant step toward commercial operation for the Generation III+ AP1000 reactor, which is projected to enter service late in the fourth quarter 2023 or in the first quarter 2024.

Get to know MCRE, the fast-spectrum MSR from Southern and TerraPower

March 30, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
MCRE could be built inside the ZPPR cell (shown here) at INL’s Materials and Fuels Complex. (Photo: INL)

A tiny 200-kWt reactor the Department of Energy says would be the first critical fast-spectrum circulating fuel reactor and the first fast-spectrum molten salt reactor (MSR) could be built and operated inside the Zero Power Physics Reactor (ZPPR) cell at Idaho National Laboratory’s Materials and Fuels Center (MFC). Details included in the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) draft environmental assessment (EA)released on March 16 for two weeks of public comment (later extended to four weeks, through April 14)—covered the potential environmental impacts associated with the development, construction, operation, and decommissioning of MCRE at INL, facilitated by the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC).

First criticality reached at Vogtle-3

March 7, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has achieved initial criticality, Georgia Power announced yesterday. A key milestone on the way to the reactor’s commercial operation, initial criticality demonstrates that operators have safely started, for the first time, the nuclear reaction inside the unit. (Fuel loading at Vogtle-3 began last October.)

Further delays, higher cost for Vogtle project announced

February 17, 2023, 2:37PMNuclear News
Vogtle Unit 3, in January. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Already for the second time this year, Southern Company has announced a delay to the expected commercial operation of Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear plant’s two-unit construction site. In addition, a delay to Unit 4’s startup is also possible, Southern said.

Vibrating pipe causes delay to Vogtle-3 startup

January 13, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 containment in December 2022. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power on January 11 announced yet another delay to the startup of the Unit 3 reactor at the Vogtle nuclear power plant. It’s the latest in a long series of delays to the two-unit construction project at the Waynesboro, Ga., site. (Vogtle-3 was initially supposed to enter service in 2016.)

Southern Company makes executive appointments

January 12, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
From left: Womack, Greene, and Sena. (Photos: Southern Company)

Southern Company has appointed Chris Womack chief operating officer effective immediately and president as of March 31. Tom Fanning will relinquish the role of president upon Womack's assumption of the role in March and is to assume the role of executive chairman of the board of directors.

Womack has served as president of Georgia Power since 2020 and chairman, president, and CEO since 2021. Prior to his current roles, he served as executive vice president and president of external affairs for Southern Company.

"Chris's leadership, vision, and integrity during his career with Southern Company have uniquely prepared him to guide Southern Company into a new era," said Fanning. "With our recent progress at Plant Vogtle and continued conversion of our operations towards net zero emissions, I believe that now is an ideal time to transition to new leadership."

The moves were announced by the company's board on January 5.

Southern Company, TerraPower complete multiloop molten salt test system

October 21, 2022, 7:33AMNuclear News
The Integrated Effects Test at TerraPower’s laboratory in Everett, Wash. (Photo: Southern Company/TerraPower)

“The world's largest chloride salt system developed by the nuclear sector” is now ready for operation in TerraPower’s Everett, Wash., laboratories. Southern Company, which is working with TerraPower through its subsidiary Southern Company Services to develop molten chloride reactor technology, announced on October 18 that the Integrated Effects Test (IET) was complete. The multiloop, nonnuclear test infrastructure follows years of separate effects testing using isolated test loops, and it was built to support the operation of the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) at Idaho National Laboratory that the companies expect will, in turn, support a demonstration-scale Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR).

NRC okays fuel loading at new Vogtle unit

August 4, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Unit 3 at the Vogtle site in July 2022. (Photo: Georgia Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authorized Vogtle plant operator Southern Nuclear to load fuel and begin operation at Unit 3—the first reactor to reach this point in the agency’s combined license process. (Prior to 1989, reactors were licensed under a two-step process, requiring both a construction permit and an operating license.)

Georgia Power sued by Vogtle co-owners

June 24, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Vogtle Units 3 and 4, with Units 1 and 2 in the background. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Both Oglethorpe Power Corporation and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG), two co-owners of the Vogtle nuclear plant, have filed lawsuits against Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power, the facility’s primary owner.

Oglethorpe and MEAG are 30 percent and 22.7 percent owners, respectively, of Vogtle. Georgia Power holds a 45.7 percent share. (Dalton Utilities, which owns 1.6 percent of the plant, is not involved in the suits.)

Vogtle project update: Cost likely to top $30 billion

May 9, 2022, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Vogtle-4 diesel generator building in March. (Photo: Georgia Power)

The total bill for the reactor expansion project at the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia is now expected to exceed $30 billion, according to the Associated Press. The original price tag for the two Westinghouse AP1000 units was $14 billion.

Kairos Power forms advisory consortium with four nuclear utility partners

April 20, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Kairos Power announced today that it has assembled an advanced nuclear development advisory consortium with four North American nuclear operators—Bruce Power, Constellation, Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority—dubbed Kairos Power Operations, Manufacturing and Development Alliance (Kairos Power-OMADA).