Vogtle monitors see more delays, more $ 1 billion for nuclear power plant


ATLANTA – Monitors say even the most recent rollback in completion dates for two new nuclear reactors in Georgia isn’t enough to explain all the delays and increased costs they see coming.

Testimony filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission on Wednesday by Engineer Don Grace and others predicted that Plant Vogtle’s third reactor near Augusta will not meet the most recent range of July 2022 to September 2022 set by Georgia Power Co. Instead, Grace said ongoing delays suggest a range of November 2022 to February 2023.

Grace said the fourth reactor, currently slated for completion between April and June 2023, may not be commissioned until the end of 2024.

The Civil Service Commission, an elected regulatory body made up of five members, pays Grace and others to oversee the construction. Grace said the problems are “largely attributable” to electrical wiring issues that have already attracted further scrutiny from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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“This level of schedule performance does little to inspire confidence in the company’s ability to accurately forecast project progress,” Civil Service Commission analyst Steven D. Roetger and nuclear engineer testified. William R. Jacobs. “We have testified in many previous (proceedings) that the timetables provided by the company are not achievable.”

Georgia Power spokesman Jeffrey Wilson said the company is sticking to its current completion estimates and “will continue to respond and provide our perspective” through the cost monitoring process of the Civil Service Commission.

More delay, Grace said, could mean $ 1 billion more in spending on a project already on track to cost $ 28.7 billion, not counting the $ 3.68 billion that original contractor Westinghouse reimbursed homeowners after going bankrupt.

Georgia Power, a unit of Southern Co. based in Atlanta, owns 45.7% of the project. Other owners include Oglethorpe Power Co, which serves most of Georgia’s electric co-ops, and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, which serves municipal utilities. The Florida JEA and other municipal and co-op utilities in Florida and Alabama are also required to purchase power from the plant.

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Oglethorpe and MEAG say the overruns have already sparked an agreement requiring Georgia Power to pay for any remaining overruns, with the others selling shares of their property to Georgia Power for an amount equal to the additional costs paid by the private utility. Georgia Power disagrees. The owners signed an agreement on October 29 to delay resolution of the dispute.

Grace said the company’s estimates “have repeatedly proven to be unrealistic and unreliable.” He said the company will need more than four months to load nuclear fuel and complete testing, that oversight from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could slow things down further, and the company’s proposals to postpone some work. until it begins to load the fuel will make everything slower and more difficult. He said the company was submitting far less notice to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission than expected, showing the work had been completed and tested.

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Grace also warned that the construction performance of Vogtle’s fourth nuclear reactor was not improving, with just 0.65 hours of actual work completed for every hour scheduled over the six weeks ended October 17.

Georgia Power has said for years that Unit 3 will be in commercial operation by November 2021, but has extended that deadline three times since May. When approved in 2012, the estimated cost was $ 14 billion, with the first electricity being produced in 2016.

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