Georgia Power wants to proceed with new Plant Vogtle reactors

Plant Vogtle (File/Staff)

Georgia Power wants to proceed with finishing two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle that will come online in November 2021 and November 2022 at a total cost of $19 billion, according to a request that the company filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission this morning.

 

”Completing the Vogtle 3 & 4 expansion will enable us to continue delivering clean, safe, affordable and reliable energy to millions of Georgians, both today and in the future,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “The two new units at Plant Vogtle will be in service for 60 to 80 years and will add another low-cost, carbon-free energy source to our already diverse fuel mix.”

The move brought immediate praise from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.

“”I’m extremely pleased to learn the co-owners of Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 have recommended completion of construction,” said Deal. “Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities have made the right decision for our state. These new units will provide clean and affordable energy to Georgians for more than 60 years while creating 6,000 jobs during project construction and 800 well-paying, permanent ones after.”

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga., whose district includes Plant Vogtle, thanked the companies for moving forward with the project and said it will benefit the nation as a whole.

“With today’s announcement, (this congressional district) continues to be at the forefront of nuclear energy expansion in the United States,” Allen said. “In order to continue to be a dominant player in the global nuclear industry, invest in our own energy independence and provide clean, low cost energy to Georgians it is vital to continue this project and I applaud the owners in making what I know was a tough decision. I will continue to do all I can to support these projects, because the future of nuclear energy in America depends on it.”

Georgia Power, which owns 45.7 percent of the project, said the other utility partners all support completing the expansion, which would be the first new nuclear reactors in the U.S. in decades. The new timeline and cost schedules must be approved by the public service commission, which is expected to rule on it by February. The company had previously said the new reactors would come online in 2019 and 2020 but the new estimates are more optimistic than a preliminary estimate of 2022 and 2023 that parent company Southern Co. supplied earlier this month.

Georgia Power has already spent $4.3 billion on the new reactors and would spend an additional $4.5 billion to complete them. The company said that would be offset by $1.7 billion in promised payments from Toshiba,the parent company of the original contractor for the project, Westinghouse. It is part of a nearly $3.7 billion pledge to the project overall.

After Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in March, Southern Nuclear, which already operates two reactors at Plant Vogtle, gained oversight of the expansion. That allowed the companies to get a better handle on the actual costs and those estimates were validated by independent experts, company officials said. Because the Public Service Commission had already approved $5.68 billion for Georgia Power to spend on the project, the additional cost for the company would be roughly $1.4 billion, according to the filing.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

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Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:23

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