Plant Vogtle Unit 3 generates power, links to grid for 1st time

The new Unit 3 reactor at Plant Vogtle has started splitting atoms, a key step toward reaching commercial operation.
Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 8:43 AM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Georgia Power announced Saturday it has achieved another important milestone for the new nuclear units under construction at its Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 nuclear expansion project.

The generator at Vogtle Unit 3 has generated electricity for the first time, and the unit has successfully synchronized and connected to the electric grid.


Meanwhile, at Vogtle Unit 4, nuclear operators began hot functional testing last month. Both achievements represent significant steps toward operations.

“What an incredibly inspiring time to join Georgia Power as we celebrate this milestone that marks the first day of generating clean, reliable power at this new nuclear unit, which will serve our customers over the next 60 to 80 years,” said Kim Greene, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power.

Connecting to the electric grid is part of ongoing startup testing for Vogtle Unit 3, and operators will continue to raise reactor power for electricity generation while performing tests at various power levels.

This Unit 3 milestone follows initial criticality, reached on March 6, when operators safely started the nuclear reaction inside the reactor, generating nuclear heat to produce steam.

Once all startup testing is successfully completed and the unit is available for reliable dispatch, the unit will enter commercial operation.

At Unit 4, hot functional testing, which began last month, marks the last series of major tests underway for the new nuclear unit ahead of initial fuel load.

The testing is being 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 4 plant systems, without nuclear fuel in the reactor, and advance through the testing process towards reaching normal operating pressure and temperature.

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 series of tests, nuclear operators will be able to exercise and validate procedures as required ahead of fuel load.

The in-service date for Unit 3 is projected during May or June 2023. Vogtle Unit 4 is projected to enter service in late fourth quarter 2023 or first quarter 2024.