US power utility Southern Company management said on 20 February that construction of units 3 and 4 at the Alvin W Vogtle NPP in Georgia is about 74% complete and it expects to meet or beat the scheduled operation dates of November 2021 and November 2022, respectively. Southern Company subsidiary and majority owner of Vogtle, Georgia Power, has been focused on increasing productivity at the site with the aim of bringing the two Westinghouse AP1000 reactor units online by April 2021 and April 2022. Georgia Power manages the project jointly with corporate affiliate Southern Nuclear Operating.

Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Fanning said: "We currently estimate that we need to sustain approximately 110,000 weekly earned hours … to meet the November 2021 and November 2022 regulatory-approved schedule," added that the company has been exceeding the productivity target with an average of 141,000 weekly earned hours to date in February. "We think if we average 110,000 hours per week, we can hit the November schedule. Hitting anything better than that improves our likelihood of gaining margin to November," he affirmed. The company is targeting 140,000 hours a week or more for the period to February 2020. “These numbers, we believe, are consistent with the April schedule that we have in place," he said.

Georgia Power management said the company is also in the process of "re-baselining" its construction plan for Vogtle 3 and 4 with a report filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission no later than 15 May. "This re-baselining effort will refine the weekly work plan for the remainder of the project," Fanning said. Management noted that the re-baselining effort is a measure for understanding "the number of hours that it takes to complete each of the tasks that are required for completion of the facility”. However, Fanning noted that there is "still a long way to go" before confirming new operational dates or modifying the productivity schedule.

"During the past three months several significant milestones were achieved," Fanning said. "Unit 3 milestones included setting the first reactor cooling pump, placement of the third and final containment ring and setting the main control room roof. At unit 4, we set the pressuriser and second steam generator inside the containment vessel. Additionally, since our third quarter call, the remaining two AP1000 units in China – Sanmen 2 and Haiyang 2 – achieved commercial operation. Lessons learned from China will continue to benefit our project."

Georgia Power hopes to start hot functional testing of the units soon after it begins to slow construction in early 2020. "We are now laser-focused on what it's going to take … to move out of the construction phase into start-up phase," Fanning said. Southern Company Executive Vice President and CFO Andrew Evans said the company expects to spend about $4 billion on the Vogtle reactors as part of its $38 billion capital investment plan for 2019 to 2023. Southern Company said 2019 will be “critical”  with plans  to spend $1.5bn on building Vogtle 3 and 4 during that year. Capital investment would consequently decrease to $1.2bn in 2020, $1bn in 2021 and $0.5bn in 2022, according to the published data, with no spending scheduled for 2023.

Construction of Vogtle 3 began in March 2013 and unit 4 the following November. Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power, both subsidiaries of Southern Company, took over management of the project following Westinghouse's Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2017. Southern Company owns 45.7% of the Vogtle project through Georgia Power. The other co-owners are Oglethorpe Power with 30%, MEAG Power with 22.7% and Dalton Utilities with the remaining 1.6%.