Final series of testing remains before the first newly constructed nuclear unit in the U.S. in over 30 years enters service
ATLANTA, May 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power announced today Vogtle Unit 3 has safely reached 100 percent power, marking a major milestone towards commercial operation and service for customers. This milestone marks the maximum energy the unit is licensed to produce in the reactor core and is the first time the unit has reached its expected output of approximately 1,100 electric MW, which can power an estimated 500,000 homes and businesses.
"Unit 3 is currently undergoing testing through the full range of plant operations, including safely running at various power levels and operating through real-life conditions just as it will over the next 60 to 80 years after the unit enters commercial operation," said Kim Greene, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. "As we enter the final stages of startup testing, reaching 100 percent power for the first time is an exciting milestone. It tells us we're close to finishing the unit safely and bringing it online to power Georgia homes and businesses with reliable, emissions-free energy for decades to come."
In alignment with the testing performed throughout power ascension, testing at the 100 percent power level is focused on the operation of the reactor, plant control systems for the reactor and support systems, and integrated plant operations. Plant performance is monitored at various conditions and data is gathered and evaluated by site engineers. With the unit reaching full power for the first time, other tests must be performed at this power level before the unit is available for reliable dispatch in accordance with its combined operating license.
Once all startup testing is successfully completed and the unit is available for reliable dispatch, Vogtle Unit 3 will enter commercial operation. Unit 3 is projected to be placed in service during June 2023.
Other Recent Milestones Across Vogtle 3 & 4:
- Receipt of Nuclear Fuel (Unit 4) – Vogtle Unit 4 began receiving nuclear fuel this month. A total of 157 fuel assemblies necessary for the safe and reliable startup of Unit 4 are currently arriving by truck in shipping cannisters designed to transport non-irradiated uranium fuel assemblies. Once delivered, assemblies are removed from the cannisters, one-by-one, and lifted into the fuel handling area, where they are inspected and safely stored in a fuel vault prior to fuel load, which is projected to occur later this year.
- Completion of Hot Functional Testing (Unit 4) – Hot functional testing for Unit 4 was completed on May 1, 2022. Read more.
- Synchronization to the Grid (Unit 3) – In April, Vogtle Unit 3 generated electricity for the first time, and successfully synchronized and connected to the electric grid. Read more.
- Initial Criticality (Unit 3) - In March, for the first time, operators safely started the nuclear reaction inside the reactor, resulting in atoms being split and nuclear heat being produced, which is used to produce steam. Read more.
The new Vogtle units are an essential part of Georgia Power's commitment to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to its 2.7 million customers. Once operating, the two new units will be clean energy sources that produce zero emissions. Southern Nuclear will operate the new units on behalf of the co-owners: Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.
About Georgia Power
Georgia Power is the largest electric subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America's premier energy company. Value, Reliability, Customer Service and Stewardship are the cornerstones of the company's promise to 2.7 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties. Committed to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy, Georgia Power maintains a diverse, innovative generation mix that includes nuclear, coal and natural gas, as well as renewables such as solar, hydroelectric and wind. Georgia Power focuses on delivering world-class service to its customers every day and the company is recognized by J.D. Power as an industry leader in customer satisfaction. For more information, visit www.GeorgiaPower.com and connect with the company on Facebook (Facebook.com/GeorgiaPower), Twitter (Twitter.com/GeorgiaPower) and Instagram (Instagram.com/ga_power).
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning future operations of and the projected in-service date for Plant Vogtle Units 3 and the projected fuel load timing for Unit 4. Georgia Power cautions that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Georgia Power; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in Georgia Power's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: the potential effects of the continued COVID-19 pandemic; the ability to control costs and avoid cost and schedule overruns during the development, construction, and operation of facilities or other projects, including Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4, which includes components based on new technology that only within the last few years began initial operation in the global nuclear industry at this scale, due to current and/or future challenges which include, but are not limited to, changes in labor costs, availability and productivity, challenges with the management of contractors or vendors, subcontractor performance, adverse weather conditions, shortages, delays, increased costs, or inconsistent quality of equipment, materials, and labor, contractor or supplier delay, the impacts of inflation, delays due to judicial or regulatory action, nonperformance under construction, operating, or other agreements, operational readiness, including specialized operator training and required site safety programs, engineering or design problems or any remediation related thereto, design and other licensing-based compliance matters, including, for Plant Vogtle Unit 4, inspections and the timely submittal by Southern Nuclear of the Inspections, Tests, Analyses, and Acceptance Criteria documentation and the related investigations, reviews and approvals by the NRC necessary to support NRC authorization to load fuel, challenges with start-up activities, including major equipment failure, or system integration, and/or operational performance, continued challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic or future pandemic health events, continued public and policymaker support for projects, environmental and geological conditions, delays or increased costs to interconnect facilities to transmission grids, and increased financing costs as a result of changes in market interest rates or as a result of project delays; the ability to overcome or mitigate the current challenges at Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 that could further impact the cost and schedule for the project; legal proceedings and regulatory approvals and actions related to construction projects, such as Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4, including Public Service Commission approvals and NRC actions; under certain specified circumstances, a decision by holders of more than 10% of the ownership interests of Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 not to proceed with construction; the notices of tender by Oglethorpe Power Corporation and the City of Dalton of a portion of their ownership interests in Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 to Georgia Power, including related litigation; the ability to construct facilities in accordance with the requirements of permits and licenses (including satisfaction of NRC requirements), to satisfy any environmental performance standards and the requirements of tax credits and other incentives, and to integrate facilities into the Southern Company system upon completion of construction; the inherent risks involved in operating and constructing nuclear generating facilities; the ability of counterparties of Georgia Power to make payments as and when due and to perform as required; the direct or indirect effect on Georgia Power's business resulting from cyber intrusion or physical attack and the threat of cyber and physical attacks; catastrophic events such as fires, earthquakes, explosions, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and other storms, droughts, pandemic health events, political unrest, wars or other similar occurrences; and the direct or indirect effects on Georgia Power's business resulting from incidents affecting the U.S. electric grid or operation of generating or storage resources. Georgia Power expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward–looking information.
SOURCE Georgia Power
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