Work progresses on Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4, on track to be the first new-generation nuclear facility in the nation.
Nuclear power is re-emerging as a viable way to meet new demand for electricity with the added benefit of no air emissions—including no carbon dioxide. Southern Company is pursuing the addition of new nuclear units to meet growing demand for electricity by 2017. The two new units under construction are at Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Georgia. Latest on new units »
In August 2009, Southern Company received an Early Site Permit for Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4. The Early Site Permit comes with a Limited Work Authorization that permits limited safety-related activities to begin at the site prior to the Combined Construction and Operating License being issued. Additionally, the new Vogtle units received certification from the Georgia Public Service Commission on March 17, 2009.
In February 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy offered Georgia Power a conditional commitment for loan guarantees for the construction of the units. President Obama and Secretary Chu announced the commitment for the loan guarantees as a catalyst to accelerate the construction of new nuclear plants and other clean energy sources while adding jobs and aiding the economy. The additions of Units 3 and 4 are expected to produce approximately 5,000 jobs during construction and an additional 800 permanent jobs once the units begin operation.
Along with Georgia Power's portion of the two 1,100-megawatt reactors, the remaining ownership is split among Oglethorpe Power Corporation, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power) and Dalton Utilities. Georgia Power's share is currently projected at approximately $4.8 billion, plus approximately $2 billion of financing costs to be collected during construction.
Light-water Westinghouse AP1000 technology was submitted for the new units. More than 30 new nuclear plants are under construction in 12 countries around the world—almost all using light-water reactor technology. The AP1000 has received design certification from the NRC. It's safe, more efficient, and simpler than current models. More about the AP1000 »
View a map showing our nuclear generating plants.
Units 3 and 4 are expected to begin commercial operation in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company, will oversee the construction as well as operate the two new units for Georgia Power and the other owners. Southern Nuclear currently operates Plant Vogtle's two existing nuclear power units as well as Georgia Power's Plant Hatch nuclear facility near Baxley, Ga., and Alabama Power's Plant Farley nuclear facility near Dothan, Ala.
We continue to evaluate sites within our service territory for nuclear plants. Evaluating these sites is a part of our long-range generation planning to identify the most cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally responsible fuel sources.
Management of nuclear plants is a complex and tightly regulated function that requires the attention of experienced technicians and proven methods. Southern Nuclear is Southern Company's nuclear plant operating company. Southern Nuclear operates three plants, Farley, Hatch and Vogtle. These plants provide about 20 percent of the electricity used in Alabama and Georgia. Because Southern Nuclear manages multiple facilities, it can capitalize on experience and expertise among its plant sites.
Uranium pellets: Each pellet produces the power of one ton of coal. Reactors have hundreds of pellets placed end to end in rods. Bundles of rods make up the core of the reactor. If coal were used instead of uranium, it would take about 20 million tons of ore—enough to fill 200,000 railroad cars in a train 2,000 miles long—to equal each core's output.
For information on used fuel, see environment - solids »