Georgia Power Company announced on Monday, July 31, 2023, that Unit 3 at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta, has completed testing and is now sending power to the grid reliably, serving customers and the State of Georgia.
The Unit 3 becomes the first new American reactor built from scratch in decades.
The new unit represents a long-term investment in the state’s clean energy future and will provide reliable, emissions-free energy to customers for decades to come.
At its full output of 1,100 megawatts of electricity, Unit 3 can power 500,000 homes and businesses.
Nuclear power now makes up about 25% of the generation of Georgia Power, the largest unit of Atlanta-based Southern Company.
A fourth reactor is also nearing completion at the site, where two earlier reactors have been generating electricity for decades.
On Friday, July 28, 2023, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated that radioactive fuel could be loaded into Unit 4, a step expected to take place before the end of September. Unit 4 is scheduled to enter commercial operation by March.
The third and fourth reactors, whose initial price tag was intended to be $14 billion, are now projected to cost their owners $31 billion. This excludes the $3.7 billion that the original contractor, Westinghouse paid the owners in order to abandon the project. The overall spending now stands at close to $35 billion.
In Georgia, almost every electric customer will pay for Vogtle. Georgia Power currently owns 45.7% of the reactors.
Smaller shares are owned by Oglethorpe Power Corporation, which provides electricity to member-owned cooperatives, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton.
2.7 million customers of Georgia Power Company are already paying part of the financing cost and elected public service commissioners have approved a monthly rate increase of $3.78 a month for residential customers as soon as the third unit begins generating power.
Project Shows Role Nuclear Can Play In Achieving Clean Energy
Vogtle is important because government officials and some utilities are again looking to nuclear power to alleviate climate change by generating electricity without burning natural gas, coal and oil.
In a statement, Southern Company CEO, Chris Womack expressed, “Today is a historic day for the State of Georgia, Southern Company, and the entire energy sector, as we continue transforming the way we power the lives of millions of Americans.”
“This project shows just how new nuclear can and will play a critical role in achieving a clean energy future for the United States.”
“Bringing this unit safely into service is a credit to the hard work and dedication of our teams at Southern Company and the thousands of additional workers who have helped build that future at this site.”Chris Womack
Also, Kim Greene, Chairman, President and CEO of Georgia Power, disclosed, “The Plant Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear expansion is another incredible example of how Georgia Power is building a reliable and resilient energy future for our state.”
“It is important that we make these kinds of long-term investments and see them through so we can continue providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to our 2.7 million customers.
“Today’s achievement is a testament to our commitment to doing just that, and it marks the first day of the next 60 to 80 years that Vogtle Unit 3 will serve our customers with clean, reliable energy.”Kim Greene