US Georgia Power announced on 7 June that plant equipment for unit 4 of the Vogtle NPP expansion project is now energised, or permanently powered, ready for subsequent testing. Earlier this year, the project team started the integrated flush testing process at unit 4, which pushes water through the permanent plant system piping that feeds into the reactor vessel and reactor coolant loops. Integrated flush represents a critical step as the process is key to helping ensure the safe start-up.
The Vogtle project has faced numerous delays and financial challenges over the years with costs increasing from $14 billion to $25 billion. Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the Vogtle expansion project in 2009, including construction of two 1,117MWe Westinghouse AP1000 reactors (units 3&4) which were expected to begin operation in 2016 and 2017.
Delays to Vogtle 3 were reported by Georgia Power in May and Reuters reported on 9 June that further delays were now expected.
Start up will likely be delayed beyond the company's first-quarter 2022 estimate, Reuters said citing advisers to the Georgia Public Service Commission. "It is our opinion that unit 3 COD (commercial operation date) will be significantly later than the 18 January 2022 Unit 3 COD forecast by the company," an adviser told the commission. Plant operating company Southern still says it plans to finish Vogtle 4 by the regulatory-approved November 2022 in-service date.