Vibrations in cooling system mean new Georgia nuclear reactor will be delayed again


ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia The power company said Thursday that vibrations found in the cooling system of its second new nuclear reactor will delay when the unit starts generating power.

Plant Vogtle’s Unit 4 The largest subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co. announced it will no longer begin commercial operations until the second quarter of 2024 or between April 1 and June 30.

The utility said in a filing to investors that the vibrations were “similar in nature” to those experienced during startup testing for Unit 3, which commenced commercial operations Last summer, it joined two old reactors that have stood at the site near Augusta for decades

In that case, the utility found that A pipe vibrated during testing Because the construction workers did not install adequate bracing. Georgia Power said the Unit 4 problem has already been fixed, but much more testing remains to be done before the March 30 deadline.

Georgia Power said it is expected to lose $30 million each month after March if Unit 4 is not running due to an earlier order from state utility regulators. Five members of the Georgia Public Service Commission ordered that the company cannot earn additional returns on equity through construction surcharges imposed on Georgia Power’s 2.7 million customers after March 30.

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The typical residential customer pays approximately $1,000 in surcharges over time to pay off financing costs.

The company said its construction budget will not be affected if Unit 4 starts by June 30, but it will have to pay $15 million a month in additional construction costs if the project extends to July.

Regulators approved in December additional 6% rate increase To pay off the $7.56 billion in remaining costs at Vogtle, the typical residential customer is expected to cost $8.95 per month. This is on top of the $5.42 increase that went into effect when Unit 3 began operating.

The new Vogtle reactors are currently estimated to cost Georgia Power and three other owners $31 billion, according to Associated Press calculations. Add $3.7 billion to that Original contractor Westinghouse Vogtle paid the owners to withdraw from construction, totaling close to $35 billion.

The original cost of the reactors was estimated at $14 billion and completion by 2017.

Units 3 and 4 are the first new US reactors built from scratch in decades. Each could power 500,000 homes and businesses without releasing any carbon. But still there are government officials and some utilities Looking at nuclear energy again To mitigate climate change, Vogtle’s costs may discourage utilities from adopting nuclear power.

Some? Florida And Alabama utilities have also contracted to buy Vogtle’s power.

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