Georgia Power says fuel loading has begun at unit 4 the Vogtle NPP. Unit 3 began commercial operation at the end of July. Vogtle 3&4 are both 1,117 MWe Westinghouse AP1000 pressurised water reactors (PWRs). The two units were originally expected to cost about $14bn and to enter service in 2016 and 2017 but suffered a series of delays, including Westinghouse’s bankruptcy in 2017. The total cost of the project to build Vogtle 3&4 is now put at more than $30bn. Georgia Power owns 45.7% of the project; Oglethorpe Power Corp owns 30%; the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG) owns 22.7%; and the city of Dalton owns 1.6%. The units will be operated by Southern Nuclear.

The start of fuel loading at Vogtle 4 began after Southern Nuclear received the 103(g) finding from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) certifying that the new unit had been constructed and will be operated in conformance with the Combined License and NRC regulations.

During fuel load, nuclear technicians from Westinghouse and operators from Southern Nuclear will install 157 fuel assemblies into the reactor core. Start-up testing will then begin designed to demonstrate the integrated operation of the primary coolant system and steam supply system at design temperature and pressure with fuel inside the reactor. Operators will bring the plant from cold shutdown to initial criticality, synchronise the unit to the grid and systematically raise power to 100%. Vogtle 4 is projected to be in service by the end of 2023 or in the first quarter 2024.

Westinghouse Electric Company congratulated Georgia Power, Southern Nuclear, and other Vogtle project partners on the fuel loading. “Plant Vogtle is well on its way to becoming the largest source of clean energy in the United States, and we are very proud that our advanced, best-in-class AP1000 technology is making it possible.”

Image: Vogtle Unit 4 (courtesy of Georgia Power)