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).

Vogtle project hit with new delay, higher cost

February 22, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Fuel preparing to be unloaded outside of Vogtle-3 last month. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Commercial operation dates for the two new reactors under construction at the Vogtle nuclear plant have been pushed back yet again, adding to the project’s total cost, Southern Company announced last week. The Vogtle plant is near Waynesboro, Ga.

During its February 17 fourth-quarter earnings call, Southern reported that the projected start dates for both reactors were being extended by three to six months. Vogtle-3 is now expected to begin providing electricity to Georgians in the fourth quarter of 2022 or first quarter of 2023, with Vogtle-4 coming on line in the third or fourth quarter of 2023.

How can nuclear energy deliver a clean energy future?

January 12, 2022, 7:03AMNuclear NewsLauren Lathem

One of the things that motivates and inspires me is the impact that access to electricity has on a society. Did you know that 15 percent of the world’s population does not have access to electricity? When I first learned that, I thought, “15 percent, that’s lower than I expected.” But then I realized that 15 percent translates to 1.1 billion people who do not have access to electricity.

ARDP recipient Southern announces molten salt fast reactor demonstration plans

November 19, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will be built at Idaho National Laboratory to demonstrate criticality in a fast-spectrum salt-cooled reactor within five years. (Image: Southern Company)

Southern Company and the Department of Energy have announced an agreement to demonstrate the world’s first fast-spectrum salt reactor in collaboration with TerraPower and a host of other participants at Idaho National Laboratory. With this announcement, at least four of the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Project awardees featuring four different coolants—helium (X-energy), sodium (TerraPower), fluoride salt (Kairos Power), and chloride salt (Southern, with TerraPower)—have announced a site and a commitment to build either a full-size demo reactor or a scaled-down experimental reactor.

Georgia Power again pushes back Vogtle project start dates

October 25, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Vogtle-4 containment as it appeared last month. Photo: Georgia Power

In what has become for nuclear advocates an all-too-familiar refrain, Georgia Power has made another revision to the Vogtle nuclear expansion project schedule. The company now predicts a Unit 3 in-service date in the third quarter of 2022 and a Unit 4 in-service date in the second quarter of 2023, representing a three-month shift for each unit.

Former NRC chairman joins Southern Company board

October 21, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Svinicki

Kristine Svinicki, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has joined the board of directors of Southern Company. Southern announced her election as an independent director on Monday. She joins the board’s Business Security and Resiliency Committee, as well as its Operations, Environmental, and Safety Committee.

“As the longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Kristine brings to Southern Company a wealth of experience advising energy policy at the federal and state levels,” said Southern chairman, president, and chief executive officer Tom Fanning. “Kristine’s knowledge of and expertise in nuclear technologies will be invaluable as we pursue the full range of energy resources. Moreover, Kristine’s insight into the energy challenges of tomorrow places Southern Company in a prime position to serve customers, communities, employees, and stockholders well into the future.”

NRC may step up scrutiny of Vogtle project

August 31, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 (left) and -4 in June. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Oversight of the Vogtle nuclear new-build project will be increased if the preliminary conclusions in an August 26 Nuclear Regulatory Commission special inspection report are finalized.

Conducted from June 21 to July 2, the inspection looked into the cause and extent of construction-quality issues in the safety-related electrical cable raceway system at Vogtle-3.

Vogtle project suffers another setback

July 30, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Vogtle Units 3 and 4, earlier this month. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power yesterday announced that due to 'productivity challenges' and the need for 'additional time for testing and quality assurance,' it has revised the schedule for the Vogtle-3 and -4 nuclear expansion project. The new schedule pushes back the Unit 3 in-service date to the second quarter of 2022 and the Unit 4 date to the first quarter of 2023—a three-to-four-month shift for each unit.

Vogtle-3 startup delayed until January as costs increase

May 20, 2021, 7:15AMNuclear News

The commercial start date for Unit 3 at the Vogtle construction site near Waynesboro, Ga., has been pushed back to January of next year, adding some $48 million to the cost of the nuclear new-build project, according to Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear officials who were testifying at a May 18 hearing before the Georgia Public Service Commission.

TVA and Kairos partner on demonstration reactor

May 6, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of Kairos Power’s KP-FHR reactor. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Tennessee Valley Authority and nuclear technology and engineering company Kairos Power this morning announced plans to collaborate on the deployment of the latter’s low-power demonstration reactor, dubbed Hermes, at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. TVA will provide engineering, operations, and licensing support to help Kairos with deployment, according to the announcement.

Southern targets December for Vogtle-3 startup

May 3, 2021, 6:54AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Vogtle-3 turbine generator. Photo: Georgia Power

Southern Company is targeting December for placing Vogtle-3 in service, according to Tom Fanning, the company’s chairman, president, and chief executive officer, who spoke with financial analysts on April 29 in its first-quarter earnings call. “The site work plan now targets fuel load in the third quarter and late December 2021 in-service date for Unit 3,” Fanning said. “Of course, any delays could result in a first-quarter 2022 Unit 3 in-service date.”

Vogtle-3 “likely” to miss scheduled start date, says Georgia Power

March 22, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

Vogtle-3's containment and turbine building. Photo: Georgia Power

Vogtle-3, the first of two 1,100-MWe AP1000 pressurized water reactors under construction at the Vogtle plant near Waynesboro, Ga., may not go into service in November as planned, Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power has announced.

According to a March 19 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the date for starting commercial operation at Unit 3 could be delayed by a month or more at a cost to Georgia Power of approximately $25 million per month. “While [Vogtle plant operator] Southern Nuclear continues to target a November 2021 in-service date for Unit 3, the schedule is challenged and … a delay is likely,” Georgia Power stated. The filing made no mention of changes to Unit 4’s scheduled start date of November 2022.

More adjustments to Vogtle milestone dates likely

January 13, 2021, 3:08PMNuclear News

The initial shipment of nuclear fuel for Unit 3 arrives at the Vogtle site in December. Photo: Georgia Power

Largely as a result of the continuing COVID-19 crisis, the Vogtle reactor-construction project team expects to further adjust dates for achieving key project milestones, including the start of hot functional testing and fuel load for Unit 3, Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power announced on January 11.

The company added, however, that it continues to expect to bring Unit 3 into service this November and Unit 4 into service in November 2022. Additional updates on the project will be provided during Southern’s quarterly earnings call next month.

Hitachi sunsets Horizon

January 12, 2021, 11:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Hitachi Ltd. plans to close Horizon Nuclear Power, its U.K. nuclear development subsidiary, early this spring, according to weekend news reports. Horizon is the firm behind Wylfa Newydd, the proposed nuclear new-build project in Wales.

On January 10, citing a story that appeared earlier that day in The Times, Yahoo reported that Hitachi will close Horizon by March 31—a move, Yahoo said, that “could scupper a sale of the [Wylfa Newydd] site, which has attracted interest from bidders, including a U.S. consortium of Bechtel, Southern Company, and Westinghouse, and dent [the] U.K.’s clean energy goals.”

However, a January 11 item on a Welsh online news service stated, “It is understood that if a sale of the site is not secured before Horizon shuts, the sale process will be continued by Hitachi.”

Five advanced reactor designs get DOE risk reduction funding

December 16, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy today announced $30 million in initial fiscal year 2020 funding—with the expectation of more over the next seven years—for five companies selected for risk reduction for future demonstration projects. The chosen reactor designs from Kairos Power, Westinghouse, BWX Technologies, Holtec, and Southern Company collectively represent a range of coolants, fuel forms, and sizes—from tiny microreactors to a molten salt reactor topping 1,000 MWe. They were selected for cost-shared partnerships under the Office of Nuclear Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) through a funding opportunity announcement issued in May 2020.

“All of these projects will put the U.S. on an accelerated timeline to domestically and globally deploy advanced nuclear reactors that will enhance safety and be affordable to construct and operate,” said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. “Taking leadership in advanced technology is so important to the country’s future, because nuclear energy plays such a key role in our clean energy strategy.”

First fuel shipment for Vogtle-3 delivered

December 14, 2020, 9:35AMNuclear News

Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power has announced the receipt of the initial shipment of nuclear fuel for Vogtle-3, characterizing the event as a “major step” for the two-unit nuclear expansion project currently under way at the Vogtle nuclear power plant near Waynesboro, Ga.

Next step: With the receipt of the first nuclear fuel assemblies, the project is now focused on one of the major milestones for Unit 3, hot functional testing, the last critical step before fuel load and, ultimately, in-service operation, Georgia Power said.

In October, Vogtle plant operator Southern Nuclear announced a readjustment of its July 2020 “aggressive site schedule” dates for Unit 3 hot functional testing, fuel load, and commercial operation. The dates were moved from October 2020, December 2020, and May 2021, respectively, to January 2021, April 2021, and the third quarter of 2021. Southern Nuclear said that hot functional testing could start as late as the end of March 2021 and fuel load as late as mid-year 2021 without jeopardizing Vogtle-3’s November 2021 regulatory approved in-service date.