The first US nuclear reactor built from scratch in decades goes into commercial operation in Georgia

The first US nuclear reactor built from scratch in decades goes into commercial operation in Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) — A new reactor at a nuclear power plant in Georgia has entered commercial operation, becoming the first new US reactor to be built from scratch in decades.

Georgia Energy announced Monday that the unit’s 3-in Vogtel factorysoutheast of Augusta, has completed testing and is now reliably sending power to the grid.

With its full output of 1,100 megawatts of electricity, Unit 3 can supply 500,000 homes and businesses. Utilities in Georgia, Florida and Alabama receive electricity.

Nuclear power now makes up about 25% of the generation of Georgia Power, the largest unit of the Atlanta-based Southern Co.

A fourth reactor is also nearing completion at the site, where two previous reactors generated electricity for decades. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority said on Friday Irradiated fuel can be loaded into unit 4, a move expected to take place before the end of September. Unit 4 is scheduled to enter commercial operation by March.

Reactors III and IV were originally supposed to cost $14 billion, but are now on track to cost their owners $31 billion. This does not include the $3.7 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid the owners to walk away from the project. This brings the total spending to nearly $35 billion.

The third reactor was supposed to start generating power in 2016 when construction began in 2009.

Vogtle is important because government officials and some utilities Again looking for nuclear energy To mitigate climate change by generating electricity without burning natural gas, coal and oil.

“This project demonstrates how new nuclear energy can play a critical role in achieving a clean energy future for the United States,” Southern Co CEO Chris Womack said in a statement. “Bringing this unit safely into service is a credit to the hard work and dedication of our teams at Southern Company and the thousands of additional workers who helped build this future at this site.”

In Georgia, nearly every electrician customer will pay for a Vogtle. Georgia Power currently owns 45.7% of the reactors. Smaller shares are held by Oglethorpe Power Corp., which supplies electricity to member-owned cooperatives and the Municipal Electricity Authority of Georgia and the City of Dalton. Oglethorpe and MEAG plan to sell the power to cooperatives and municipal utilities throughout Georgia, as well as in Jacksonville, Florida, and parts of the Alabama and Florida Panhandle.

Georgia Power’s 2.7 million customers already pay a portion of the cost of financing, as do elected public service commissioners He agreed to increase the monthly rate $3.78 per month for residential customers once the third unit begins generating power. That could be hit by billings in August, two months after stay-at-home customers increased by $16 a month. to pay for high fuel costs.

The commissioners will decide later who pays for the rest of Vogtel’s costs, including the fourth reactor.

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