More delays predicted for startup of new unit at Plant Vogtle

Plant Vogtle Units 3 (left) and 4 are shown in a February 2021 photo from Georgia Power.
Plant Vogtle Units 3 (left) and 4 are shown in a February 2021 photo from Georgia Power.(WRDW)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 7:49 AM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Independent state monitors and state regulators say Georgia Power Co.’s expansion of Plant Vogtle is even further behind than the company recently acknowledged.

The first of two new nuclear reactors likely won’t be in operation until at least the summer of 2022, and the project’s total costs are likely to rise at least $2 billion more, according to reporting by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Units 3 and 4 have been under construction in recent years at the nuclear plant, while Units 1 and 2 have been operating for decades.

Georgia Power had in recent years been aiming to complete Unit 3 in November, but officials told investors last month that it would probably be finished in December.

The further delay was disclosed in testimony Monday.

The development comes despite Georgia Power’s announcement Monday of a milestone at Unit 4.

The company said plant equipment for the new reactor is now energized, or permanently powered, which is needed to perform all subsequent testing for the unit at the expansion project.

Unit 4 is undergoing testing, with the project team earlier this year starting the integrated flush testing process, which pushes water through the permanent plant system piping that feeds into the reactor vessel and reactor coolant loops.

Across the river in South Carolina ...

  • Court documents show a former official for the contractor hired to build two South Carolina nuclear reactors that were never completed will plead guilty to lying to federal authorities. Carl Churchman was the Westinghouse Electric Co. project director for the failed plant that cost ratepayers and investors billions of dollars. Authorities say Churchman lied about whether he communicated with utility executives on completion dates for the reactors. Utility executives swore construction was on track to keep regulators approving rate increases and maintain support from investors, even though the project fell behind. Two top-level executives have already pleaded guilty in the multi-year federal fraud investigation.
  • South Carolina’s state-owned utility appears to have survived four years of turmoil to remain public. The South Carolina House and Senate both unanimously approved an overhaul bill Tuesday that did not include selling Santee Cooper to a private company. The utility’s future has been uncertain since July 2017, when construction of a pair of nuclear reactors in which the utility was a minority partner stopped before completion, leaving the company billions of dollars in debt. The bill heads to Gov. Henry McMaster’s desk. He says he wants to read it before deciding whether to sign it. But the measure gained enough votes in the House and Senate to make it veto-proof.

From reports by The Associated Press and WRDW/WAGT