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Plant Vogtle costs, schedule unchanged in past year, according to report

Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 1:27 PM
Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 2:24 AM
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Georgia Power Co. has steered clear of further Plant Vogtle expansion cost overruns and schedule delays in the past year, according to a report filed Friday with the state’s Public Service Commission.

In the first construction monitoring report filed in a year, Georgia Power told state regulators that forecast construction and capital costs were unchanged since its financial share of Vogtle’s new reactors rose 8.6 percent. The projected completion dates remain in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 2018, respectively, for Units 3 and 4.

Previous schedules called for the two new reactors to be completed in November 2016 and November 2017 with a total price tag of $14 billion.

“The Vogtle Units 3 and 4 nuclear facility continues to be well-managed to the current cost and schedule forecasts,” the report said.

In an interview to discuss the report, Buzz Miller, the executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power, said lower interest rates combined with construction milestones that were delayed lowered the financing costs by $91 million.

Several major portions of the project progressed in the past year, including pouring of the concrete basemats, placement of four liquid processing tanks and rebar installation. One of the largest components of the reactors, a CA20 module assembled from 72 “submodules” built in Lake Charles, La., will be moved to its permanent spot at Unit 3 in the next few days, Miller said.

Delays in fabricating and shipping the CA20 submodules increased project costs, eventually causing Georgia Power to issue a stop-work order to contractor Chicago Bridge & Iron. In the past year, CB&I delivered all remaining submodules to the Vogtle site for inspection and repair work allowing for “enhanced supervision and significantly accelerated the release process for assembly,” the report said.

Miller said the Lake Charles facility has improved work quality and the company continues to closely monitor its work. However, Georgia Power has discussed alternate vendors to build remaining components.

Despite the project’s mishaps, Miller said the project continues to offer more than $2 billion in cost benefits to Georgia Power customers, including $250 million in financing cost savings from the U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee finalized last week.

“To finish this plant is a better economic decision, from this point, than to go start somewhere else,” Miller said.

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