Completion of Plant Vogtle Nuclear Expansion Delayed Until Second Quarter

Dave Williams

Monday, February 5th, 2024

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A malfunction within the cooling system at the second of two additional nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is forcing Georgia Power to delay the unit’s in-service date until the second quarter of this year.

Georgia Power announced Thursday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that vibrations associated with certain piping within the cooling system at Vogtle Unit 4 were discovered during start-up and pre-operational testing. The problem has been fixed.

Both the vibrations and the methods used to fix them were similar to those experienced before Vogtle Unit 3 went online last summer.

Before discovery of the vibrations, completion of Unit 4 had been expected to occur during the first quarter.

The new schedule isn’t expected to affect the total capital cost forecast for the project. However, any slippage in the timetable for completion beyond March 31 would reduce Georgia Power’s return on equity to zero, which would reduce earnings by about $30 million for each month until the work is finished.

The state Public Service Commission (PSC) voted in December to let Georgia Power pass on to customers almost $7.6 billion of its costs in building the two additional nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, the first built in the United States since the 1980s.

The project, originally expected to cost $14 billion when the PSC approved it in 2009, has more than doubled due to a series of cost overruns and delays in the construction schedule. The project will increase the average residential customer’s bill by $8.95 per month.

Environmental groups critical of the Plant Vogtle expansion argue nuclear energy is a bad investment and that Georgia Power would be better off more aggressively pursuing the development of renewable energy sources.

Georgia Power officials say the project is a sound long-term investment that will provide safe, reliable, and emission-free energy for up to 80 years. 

About Dave Williams

Dave Williams has covered state government and politics in Georgia since 1999 and for several years before that, covered Georgia’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. He began his career in radio news in Florida and Upstate New York.