Georgia Power announced today it has achieved another important milestone for the new nuclear units under construction at its Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Ga. 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. “I consider myself very fortunate to have worked onsite at Vogtle 1 & 2 early in my career as an engineer, learning so much that I have carried with me over the years while also gaining an appreciation of the value of nuclear energy as a critical, long-term investment for our state. As we approach commercial operation for Unit 3, I know that every professional who has been involved in this project or worked at Plant Vogtle is proud of the role they have played in helping build a clean energy future for Georgia.”
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.
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, which will be clean energy sources that produce zero emissions, are expected to power more than 500,000 homes and businesses. Southern Nuclear will operate the new units on behalf of the co-owners: Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.
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 dates for Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 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.