Work on the nuclear power expansion at Plant Vogtle isn’t keeping up with a timeline set by owners of the project. At a hearing on Tuesday, officials with Georgia Power and its sister company Southern Nuclear said they’re still optimistic, though, that the project will be done on time.
Both of the new reactors at the nuclear power plant near Augusta were supposed to be up and running by now. Georgia Power and state regulators agreed to a new deadline, to have Unit 3 in operation in November 2021, and Unit 4 in November 2022. To help accomplish that goal, Georgia Power set a more ambitious timeline to have the reactors done by May of those years.
That “aggressive” timeline, as Georgia Powers calls it, has slipped by about two months for Unit 3, officials told the Public Service Commission. They said they think they can still meet the May 2021 deadline.
“We continue to work to our aggressive schedule. We feel that is still achievable,” Stephen Kuczynski, president of Southern Nuclear, said. “It is a challenge, but achievable.”
Company officials also told regulators that they had allocated some of their contingency money for the project, mainly to go towards attracting and retaining craft labor.
Vogtle is the only nuclear power construction project in the country.
Costs has gone up as the construction schedule has lagged. The total cost for the project, owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG and the city of Dalton, is more than $25 billion.
Last month, the Georgia Court of Appeals gave new life to a legal challenge to the project. Critics of Plant Vogtle had appealed the Public Service Commission’s 2017 decision to keep construction going despite delays, rising costs and the bankruptcy of its lead contractor. A Fulton County Superior Court judge had rejected the challenge, but the Appeals Court remanded the case.