Utility wins approval to build two 1102 MW AP1000 nuclear reactors at Vogtle site
- By April Murelio -
The Georgia Public Service Commission has approved two additional nuclear reactors for Georgia Power. Georgia Power filed its certification request with the Georgia PSC last August. The PSC held three rounds of hearings in November and December 2008 and in January 2009, during which witnesses gave testimony and parties entered evidence to support their filings. Last April, Georgia Power's parent company, Southern Nuclear Operating Company, lodged an application with the NRC for a combined construction and operating licence (COL) for two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors on the Vogtle site. This followed a 2006 application filing for an Early Site Permit (ESP). Southern Company initiated those steps on behalf of the other firms that own stakes in Vogtle: Oglethorpe Power (30%); Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, MEAG (22.7%); and, Dalton Utilities (1.6%). Georgia Power owns the remaining 45.7% of Vogtle. Also last April, the AP1000 consortium of Shaw and Westinghouse signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract (EPC) with Georgia Power for the two new 1100 MWe nuclear units at Vogtle. Under the terms of the agreement, the consortium will supply and construct the entire facility with the exception of 'certain items' provided by the plant's co-owners. Unit 1 at Vogtle started commercial operation in May 1987, while Unit 2 began in May 1989. Each of the Westinghouse pressurized water reactors (PWRs) is capable of generating 1215 MWe. Subject to approvals, the two new reactors - Vogtle units 3 and 4 - are scheduled to enter service alongside the plant's two existing reactors in 2016 and 2017. A majority of the PSC members adopted a motion by Commissioner Stan Wise to adopt a stipulation signed by both Georgia Power and the Commission Public Interest Advocacy Staff. Wise's motion would permit Georgia Power to recover the cost of financing the plant during construction, known as Construction Work in Progress (CWIP). It also approved a recommendation for the company and the PSC to work together to develop an alternative risk sharing mechanism to provide some shelter from significant cost overruns to ratepayers.