Georgia nuclear plant completes test phase, could supply Alabama customers
A new reactor at a Georgia nuclear power plant is one step closer to generating electricity. Georgia Power Company says the fourth reactor at Plant Vogtle has completed hot functional testing. Such testing involves heating the reactor to the extreme pressure and temperature required to split atoms. The utility is owned by Oglethorpe Power Corporation and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia as primary shareholders. The companies say the reactor would sell power to cooperatives and municipal utilities across Georgia, as well in Jacksonville, Florida, and parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
The unit of Atlanta-based Southern Company can start loading radioactive fuel into the reactor once it gets federal approval. Southern Company says it could load fuel between July and October. The reactor could reach commercial operation between December and March 2024. A third reactor is supposed to reach commercial operation by June. The two new Vogtle reactors could cost the owners $31 billion.
That doesn't include $3.68 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid to the owners after going bankrupt, which brings total spending to almost $35 billion.
Georgia Power CEO Kim Greene said the company was able to complete testing more quickly on the fourth reactor thanks to lessons learned from the third reactor. Its tests lasted weeks longer than planned.
Georgia Power owns a minority of the two new reactors. The remaining shares are owned by Oglethorpe Power Corporation., the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton. Oglethorpe and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia would sell power to cooperatives and municipal utilities across Georgia, as well in Jacksonville, Florida, and parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Georgia Power's 2.7 million customers are already paying part of the financing cost, and state regulators have approved a monthly rate increase of $3.78 a month as soon as the third unit begins generating power. The elected Georgia Public Service Commission will decide later who pays for the remainder of the costs, including the fourth reactor.