Georgia Power announced that Plant Vogtle Unit 3 has entered commercial operation and is now serving customers and the state of Georgia, after seven years of delays and projected costs of around $35 billion.

Vogtle Unit 3 is the first newly-constructed nuclear unit in the U.S. in over 30 years and can power an estimated 500,000 homes and businesses, Georgia Power said.

Nuclear energy currently provides approximately 25% of Georgia Power’s overall energy mix, including the existing units at Plant Vogtle and Georgia’s other nuclear facility at Plant Hatch in Baxley, Georgia.

The final stages of construction and testing continue at Vogtle Unit 4, with the unit projected to be operational during the late fourth quarter of 2023 or the first quarter of 2024. The unit completed hot functional testing in May. The Vogtle site has also received nuclear fuel for Unit 4, with a total of 157 fuel assemblies necessary for the startup of the unit.

As the project received repeated delays the total costs have doubled, leading to a lawsuit in 2022 from Oglethorpe Power Corp., the city of Dalton, and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG) against Georgia Power. The plaintiffs claimed the rising costs should have triggered a clause in a 2018 ownership agreement, which would offload construction costs to Georgia Power after a certain limit. Georgia Power settled with co-owner MEAG in October 2022, but not with Oglethorpe or Dalton.

Also, last week, Georgia Power announced the receipt of the 103(g) finding from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for Vogtle Unit 4. This finding was confirmed in an official letter received by Southern Nuclear and signifies that the new unit has been constructed and will be operated in conformance with the Combined License and NRC regulations. No further NRC findings are necessary in order for Southern Nuclear to load fuel or begin the startup sequence for the new unit.

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