Start of new unit at Plant Vogtle will be delayed until January

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: May. 19, 2021 at 10:01 AM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia Power says delays in testing mean the first new unit at its Vogtle plant is now unlikely to start generating electricity before January.

The delay will add $48 million to the cost of two nuclear units being built alongside two existing units near Waynesboro.

The plant is projected to cost more than $26 billion for all owners, including Georgia Power, electric cooperatives and municipal utilities.

The delay was disclosed in a hearing with the Georgia Public Service Commission to discuss spending and construction on the only nuclear plant being built in the U.S.

Commissioners will decide how much Georgia Power’s customers pay for their share of the plant.

Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 are nearing completion. Units 1 and 2 have been operating for decades.

Six to eight weeks of hot functional testing began in late April for Vogtle Unit 3. Hot functional testing marks the last series of major tests underway for the new nuclear unit ahead of initial fuel load. The testing represents a significant step toward operations.

Hot functional testing is conducted to verify the successful operation of reactor components and systems together and confirm the reactor is ready for fuel load. As part of the testing, the site team will begin running Unit 3 plant systems without nuclear fuel and advance through the testing process toward reaching normal operating pressure and temperature.

Over the next several weeks, nuclear operators will use the heat generated by the unit’s four reactor coolant pumps to raise the temperature and pressure of plant systems to normal operating levels. Once normal operating temperature and pressure levels are achieved and sustained, the unit’s main turbine will be raised to normal operating speed using steam from the plant. During these tests, nuclear operators will be able to exercise and validate procedures as required ahead of fuel load.

From reports by The Associated Press and WRDW/WAGT.