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Vogtle expansion could signal future of nuclear industry

Site is one of 5 in US and of 70 globally

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Eyes across the nation are watching the construction of two nuclear reactors rising out of the red-clay ground about 30 miles south of Augusta.

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Units 1 and 2 are seen at Plant Vogtle on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Units 1 and 2 are seen at Plant Vogtle on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF

The Alvin W. Vogtle nuclear power plant near Waynesboro, Ga., is using a new design and new construction method to build the first reactors licensed in the U.S. in more than three decades.

As the first generation of nuclear reactors moves toward retirement, Plant Vogtle’s expansion represents a critical moment for the future of the industry.

“It is the most important thing going on in the U.S. in the nuclear industry right now,” said Buzz Miller, the executive vice president of nuclear development for Atlanta-based Georgia Power.

More than 3,000 construction workers are building the nuclear islands and cooling towers for Vogtle Units 3 and 4. Around the world, 70 nuclear reactors are under construction. Only five of those are in the U.S., including two at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant near Columbia.

“This is the biggest infrastructure project in Georgia, and, if not the largest, one of the largest in the United States,” Miller said.

In February, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz signed a $6.5 billion federal loan guarantee to help Southern Co. and Oglethorpe Power finance the new reactors.

Loan guarantees were developed in 2005 as an incentive to help build nuclear reactors, but several other projects stalled as natural gas prices plunged.

The Vogtle project is closely watched by other utility companies as the nation pushes to diversify its energy infrastructure, Miller said.

“The world is looking at us,” he said. “As we progress and show success, it’s going to embolden others to build.”

In early March, a 560-foot heavy-lift derrick, one of the world’s largest cranes, lifted a 1,110-ton submodule into its final resting place on the Unit 3 nuclear island.

The Westinghouse AP1000 units are expected to begin producing power in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 2018 with a total price tag of $14 billion.

WHAT’S NEW?

TUESDAY: The south Augusta Starbucks facility steps toward opening day.

The Seattle-based company currently produces its VIA product line in Europe, but will be moving production here when its south Augusta facility is fully operational.

TODAY: Eyes across the nation are watching the construction of two nuclear reactors rising at Plant Vogtle, about 30 miles south of Augusta.

THURSDAY: Cabela’s opened its first Georgia store in Augusta last month amid much fanfare.

FRIDAY: Georgia Regents University can point to a number of deals done and multimillion-dollar gifts received, of buildings completed and others on the way.

SATURDAY: A new fashion outlet mall in Augusta should be open in time for the 2016 Masters Tournament.

SUNDAY: The Army announced in December that it will relocate its Cyber Command to Fort Gordon. The five-year project will include construction of a new headquarters, creation of a new Cyber Center of Excellence and formation of a new Cyber Mission Unit.

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oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 04/09/14 - 12:04 am
0
0
Energy
Unpublished

We have waited thirty years to see this. Jimmy Carter stopped this country cold in its tracks on clean energy. He was scared of Nuclear power even though he had cost taxpayers millions to be trained by the Navy to be a nuclear officer. He resigned his commision before ever setting foot on a ship as a nuclear officer. So for thirty years we have burned oil, gone to war for oil and cost this country billions in extra energy cost. Everyone should send a thank you to GP and SCE&G for their commitment to the future.

geecheeriverman
3039
Points
geecheeriverman 04/09/14 - 06:11 am
0
2
Costs

If money can produce a safe nuclear site, Plant Vogtle will be it. Money is being wasted by the dump truck loads every single day. I am for nuclear energy, but the politicians and lobbyist are in charge, not the engineers.

PaxusCalta
4
Points
PaxusCalta 04/09/14 - 08:30 am
0
2
Vogtle is already late and over budget

According to Southern Companies own documents secured through the Freedom of Information Act Vogtle 3 & 4 are already 2 years late i completion and $1.4 billion over budget (see http://www.taxpayer.net/library/article/plant-vogtle-reactors-34-timelin...). Given that Vogtle 1 & 2 were supposed to cost less than $1 billion together and ended up costing over $9 billion this is hardly surprising. We have seen this pattern in everyone of the last 60 reactors built in the US. Unrealistically low cost estimates and fast completion dates are in the initial contract and then once the first few billion have been wasted, the projects can't be stopped, because the utility says "we have already spent billions, we have to finish it now".

Southern Company has yet again fooled the rate payers and tax payers of Georgia, who will be bilked for billions.

PaxusCalta
4
Points
PaxusCalta 04/09/14 - 08:32 am
0
2
Vogtle is already late and over budget

According to Southern Companies own documents secured through the Freedom of Information Act Vogtle 3 & 4 are already 2 years late in completion and $1.4 billion over budget (see http://www.taxpayer.net/library/article/plant-vogtle-reactors-34-timelin...). Given that Vogtle 1 & 2 were supposed to cost less than $1 billion together and ended up costing over $9 billion this is hardly surprising. We have seen this pattern in everyone of the last 60 reactors built in the US. Unrealistically low cost estimates and fast completion dates are in the initial contract and then once the first few billion have been wasted, the projects can't be stopped, because the utility says "we have already spent billions, we have to finish it now".

Southern Company has yet again fooled the rate payers and tax payers of Georgia, who will be bilked for billions.

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