COVID-19 could threaten Plant Vogtle construction, filing warns

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

On March 27, 2020, crews at Plant Vogtle Unit 4 placed a steel containment vessel lid that weighs nearly 1.5 million pounds — more than two fully loaded jumbo jets.

WAYNESBORO, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- The coronavirus outbreak could disrupt construction of Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 near Waynesboro, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Southern Co., operator of Georgia Power, said it and its subsidiaries are subject to risks related to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Those risks include disruption to the construction of the two new units of the nuclear power plant near Waynesboro.

The coronavirus pandemic and accompanying restrictions on businesses, public gatherings and travel have “significantly” disrupted economic activity in the utility’s service territories and have caused volatility in capital markets, the company said.

COVID-19 CONCERNS | No workers have tested positive for virus at Plant Vogtle

Due to the economic upheaval and leap in unemployment caused by widespread closure of non-essential businesses and other factors tied to COVID-19, the company has suspended disconnections for some customers who can’t pay their electric bills.

“The effects of the continued outbreak of COVID-19 and related government responses could include extended disruptions to supply chains and capital markets, reduced labor availability and productivity and a prolonged reduction in economic activity,” the company said. “These effects could have a variety of adverse impacts on the Company and its subsidiaries, including reduced demand for energy, particularly from commercial and industrial customers, impairment of goodwill or long-lived assets and impairment of the ability of the Company and its subsidiaries to develop, construct and operate facilities and to access funds from financial institutions and capital markets.”

These factors could result in disruptions or delays in construction, testing, supervisory and support activities at Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4, the company said.

Procedures have been implemented to cut the risks of virus transmission at the construction site, including social distancing, isolation of people with possible symptoms, testing of their close contacts and other measures.

However, the company said: “It is too early to determine what impact, if any, the COVID-19 outbreak will have on the current construction schedule or budget for Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4.”

The construction project just celebrated a milestone Friday with placement of the Unit 4 containment vessel top head.

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