Vogtle 3 begins commercial operation

31 July 2023

The USA's first newly constructed nuclear power plant in more than 30 years is now serving customers - it reached first criticality in March, was connected to the electricity grid in April and is now officially generating electricity for customers, Georgia Power has announced.

Vogtle: unit 3 is now supplying electricity to customers, and unit 4 (seen in the background) is set to join it soon (Image: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power Chairman, President and CEO Kim Greene said the achievement was a "testament" to the company's commitment to building a reliable and resilient energy future and "marks the first day of the next 60 to 80 years that Vogtle Unit 3 will serve our customers with clean, reliable energy".

Work started on two Westinghouse AP1000 pressurised water reactor (PWR) units at the Vogtle site, near Waynesboro, in 2013. Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power, both subsidiaries of Southern Company, took over management of the construction project in 2017 following Westinghouse's Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bechtel Inc was contracted to manage day-to-day construction.

The announcement comes days after the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a so-called 103(g) finding authorising fuel loading and the start of operations at Vogtle 4, which is now in the final stages of construction and testing. The 157 fuel assemblies that will make up the first core are already on site, and the unit is projected to be enter service late this year or during the first quarter of 2024.

"We can do new nuclear energy in America, and we must continue to do new nuclear in America,” said Westinghouse President and CEO Patrick Fragman. "The lessons-learned, and the experience gained through these vital units at Vogtle, as well as the competencies and capabilities we built with our supply chain, prepare Westinghouse well for continued new nuclear units to address our climate change and energy security objectives."

According to Westinghouse, the AP1000's proven technology, leveraging modular design and construction methods, offers the benefits of Nth-of-a-kind status with a global fleet and a mature supply chain, improving the economics and mitigating schedule risks for future customers. Four AP1000s are already in operation in China, where six further reactors are under construction. The reactor has recently been selected by Poland for its nuclear energy programme and is earmarked for construction at the Kozloduy site in Bulgaria. Ukraine is planning to build up to nine AP1000 units.

Vogtle is already home to two operating PWRs. Once all four units are online, it will become the largest generator of clean energy in the USA, Georgia Power said.

Vogtle units 3 and 4 are co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, and will be operated by Southern Nuclear.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News