Construction of new nuclear reactor in Georgia likely delayed

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The launch of the third reactor under construction at the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia is likely to be delayed beyond the Company's first quarter of 2022 estimate, according to the State Counselors to the Georgia Public Service Commission.

It is our opinion that Representation 3 COD will be significantly later than Jan. 18, 2022 Unit 3 COD forecast by the company, earlier told Commission an adviser this week.

The officials at Southern were not immediately available for comment.

When it is installed, now it will be the first new reactor in the United States since 2016 when the Tennessee Valley Authority finished off the Watts Bar 2 in Tennessee.

Delays and cost overruns in building reactors could make it difficult for new nuclear to play much of a role in the President Joe Biden's goal to get all the nation's power from non-carbon emitting sources like nuclear and renewables by 2035.

After several longer starts and stops, it took TVA over 40 years to complete Watts Bar 2. The Vogtle units are the only U.S. reactors under construction in the United States.

Southern said in May it was going to finish Vogtle 3 in the first quarter of 2022 and Vogtle 4 between August 2022 and its approved regulatory November 2022 date of arrival into service.

When Georgia approved the expansion of Vogtle in 2009, the two 1,117 - megawatt Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors were expected to cost about $14 billion and enter service in 2016 and 2017.

Some analysts estimate the costs have ballooned at over $27 billion due to delays related to the nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant in Japan in 2011 and the 2017 bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the former contractor on the project.

Southern has estimated the capital cost for its 45.7% share of the new Vogtle reactors at roughly $8.7 billion. Dalton Utilities also have stakes in the Oglethorpe Power Corp, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities.

In addition, the company estimated its construction costs at about $3.0 billion.

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