One of Plant Vogtle’s new nuclear units is delayed again


Completion of one of two new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle is being delayed again, Georgia Power announced Friday afternoon.

The latest mishap is due to a “degraded hydrogen seal” on the side of the unit’s generator, not the reactor where uranium atoms are split to produce heat.

The resolution of the issue will push forward the expected date of operation of Unit 3 to July. Georgia Power’s most recent estimate was for the unit to enter service this month.

The problem was discovered in the final stages of start-up tests, as engineers turned the reactor’s power up and down to ensure it was operating safely. Late last month, the reactor reached 100% power for the first time.

Required testing of the units is 95 percent complete, Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins said in a statement.



“Once all start-up tests have been successfully completed and the unit is available for safe and reliable shipment, Vogtle Unit 3 will enter commercial operation,” Hawkins said.

It was not immediately clear how much the delay would affect the total price of the project, which has already exceeded $35 billion, more than double the company’s initial forecast. Both units were supposed to be completed in 2017 and are more than six years behind schedule.

Unit 3 and its twin, Unit 4, are the first new commercial nuclear reactors built from scratch in the US in more than three decades. Unit 4 is expected to load fuel into its reactor in July and enter service late this year or early 2024.

Once completed, each unit will produce enough electricity for 500,000 homes and businesses without contributing to planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

But their electricity will come at a high cost to the company’s taxpayers

Georgia Power customers have been paying for the reactors for years. By the end of this year, the average Georgia Power customer will have paid about $913 on their monthly bills for Vogtle’s construction, witnesses told state regulators at the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC).

As soon as Unit 3 is online, Georgia Power estimates its customers will start paying about $3.78 more on their monthly bills.

More of the project’s costs are likely to be passed on to taxpayers soon, with the exact amount to be determined by the PSC in hearings that will begin after Unit 4 is loaded with fuel.

Three other electricity suppliers have shares in the units. Georgia Power currently holds the largest stake at 45.7%, followed by Oglethorpe Power at 30%. Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power) owns 22.7% of the project, while Dalton Utilities has the smallest share at 1.6%.

A disclosure note

This coverage is supported by a partnership with 1Earth Fund, the Kendeda Fund and Journalism Funding Partners. You can learn more and support our climate reporting by donating at

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