Southern Co. got the ball rolling on its $4 billion plan to double the size of Plant Vogtle on Tuesday by seeking federal approval to locate two new reactors at the 3,100-acre nuclear plant.
The plant's operator, Southern Nuclear Operating Co., filed the so-called Early Site Permit with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission that would green light preliminary site work at the two-unit, 2,400-megawatt facility.
Actual construction of the reactors would not occur at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant until the permit - and a series of other regulatory hurdles - are cleared by 2010 at the earliest.
"This is a preliminary step, not a commitment," said Steve Kerekes, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, a Washington-based group representing the nuclear power industry.
The project could nearly double Plant Vogtle's 840 full-time employees and create 2,000 temporary construction jobs if Georgia Power, a Southern Co. subsidiary and majority owner of Plant Vogtle, decides to proceed.
Company officials have previously said their decision to commit to the project would be made in 2008.
"When the owners make that decision, we will be prepared," said J. Barnie Beasley, Southern Nuclear president and CEO, who announced the permit filing in North Augusta during a breakfast meeting of the pro-nuclear Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness group.
Ken Clark, a spokesman with the NRC's Atlanta office, said the permit approval could take up to three years. He said Southern Co. is the fourth utility to seek permits for new reactors, the others being Exelon Corp.'s site in Clinton, Ill.; Dominion Energy's site near Mineral, Va.; and Entergy Corp.'s plant in Port Gibson, Miss.
VOGTLE TO-DO LIST
This checklist must be complete before new nuclear reactors can be built at Plant Vogtle:
Aug. 15: File for Early Site Permit
Early 2007: Notify state regulators that energy plans will include new reactors
Late 2007-Early 2008: File federal Combined Operating License to build and operate new reactors
Mid-2008: Ask state regulators to certify new reactors
Mid-2008-Early 2009: Expected approval of state certification
Mid- to late 2009: Expected approval of site permit
Mid- to late 2010: Expected operating license approval; construction begins
Source: Georgia Power
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