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.)
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.
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.)
Vogtle-4 in October. (Photo: Georgia Power)
Cold hydro testing of Unit 4 at the Vogtle plant’s nuclear expansion site has been completed, Georgia Power announced on December 7.
Framatome’s GAIA fuel assembly with Protect EATF technologies. (Photo: Framatome)
Framatome has completed the second 18-month cycle of its GAIA Protect Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel (EATF) technology at Vogtle’s Unit 2 in Waynesboro, Ga. Inspections afterward revealed that the full-length chromium-coated fuel rods maintained their original characteristics, while the chromia-enhanced pellets operated as designed during 36 months of reactor operation.
Vogtle Unit 3 in September. (Photo: Georgia Power)
Georgia Power announced this morning that fuel loading at Vogtle-3 has commenced, marking an important milestone on what has proved to be a long and bumpy road to startup and commercial operation of the first new nuclear power reactors to be built in the United States in more than three decades. (Major work on the Vogtle-3 and -4 project began in 2012, with a price tag of $14 billion and scheduled unit start dates of 2016 and 2017. The project’s total cost is now expected to exceed $30 billion.)
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
In a photo from November 2021, the Vogtle plant’s Unit 4 is in the foreground, and Unit 3 is in the center. Units 1 and 2, which entered service in the 1980s, are shown at the top of the photo. (Photo: Georgia Power)
A spokesperson for Georgia Power has confirmed that the projected in-service date for the new Vogtle-3 reactor remains the third quarter of 2022, according to an article published on January 27 on the Power magazine website. The in-service date for Vogtle-4 is targeted for the second quarter of 2023, the spokesperson said.
ADOPT fuel pellets developed by Westinghouse through the DOE's Accident Tolerant Fuel Program. (Photo: Westinghouse)
Westinghouse Electric Company and Southern Nuclear have agreed to a plan to install four Westinghouse lead test assemblies in Vogtle-2, a 1,169-MWe pressurized water reactor located in Waynesboro, Ga. Four lead test assemblies containing uranium enriched up to 6 percent U-235 will be loaded in Vogtle-2 in 2023, marking the first time that fuel rods with uranium enriched above 5 percent U-235 are put in use in a U.S. commercial power reactor.
Vogtle Units 3 (in foreground) and 4, in November. (Photo: Georgia Power)
Georgia Power has revised the projected commercial operation dates for Vogtle-3 and -4 a total of four times this year—most recently in October—but some experts are saying that at least one more delay is probable.