Georgia Power has commenced initial energization at the 1,117MW unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear expansion project in Waynesboro, Georgia.


Image: Construction underway at Vogtle nuclear expansion project in the US. Photo: courtesy of Southern Company.

The move, which marks significant milestone in the Vogtle expansion project, will enable subsequent testing for the Vogtle Unit 3 prior to its commissioning.

The Vogtle nuclear power plant, which comprises operating two units, is currently undergoing an expansion to add two new Westinghouse AP1000 (Advanced Passive) nuclear units reactor units each with 1,117MW capacity.

The expansion project is the first new nuclear power plant to be licensed and begin construction in the US in more than three decades.

Vogtle 3 & 4 construction senior vice-president Glen Chick said: “Initial energization is a major first step in transitioning the project from construction toward system operations.

“With energization complete, we can continue moving into the actual testing phase for Unit 3.”

The Vogtle generating plant is jointly owned by Georgia Power with 45.7% stake, Oglethorpe Power with 30% interest, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia with 22.7% stake and Dalton Utilities with 1.6% interest.

In March 2019, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued guarantees of loans to the Vogtle owners, including Georgia Power (nearly $1.7bn), Oglethorpe Power Corporation ($1.6bn) and up to $415m to three subsidiaries of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power).

The Vogtle units 3 and 4 are scheduled to be commissioned in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Georgia Power said in a statement: “All first quarter milestones have been achieved including the placement of the Unit 4 pressurizer and the Unit 3 containment vessel top head, signifying that all modules and large components have been placed inside the unit.”

Expected to generate emission-free electricity required to power approximately 500,000 homes and businesses, the Vogtle expansion in is expected to create more than 7,000 jobs, with more than 800 permanent jobs once the units begin operating.

There are currently more than 7,000 workers employed at the site, with more than 800 workers expected to be employed at the site once the units begin operating.

Upon completion, the two new nuclear reactors are expected to annually generate more than 17 million megawatt-hours of electricity.