Southern Co.'s yearly report to Georgia regulators on the status of two new reactors under construction at Plant Vogtle contained few surprises, with the project's budget and schedule on track to meet earlier estimates.The company and its partner utilities expect fuel loading will take place at unit 3 in mid-year 2017, with grid connection in the third quarter. Unit 4 will come online about a year later. Southern's share of construction and capital costs for the new Westinghouse AP1000 reactors is still estimated at $4.8 billion, according to the report. (Southern subsidiary Georgia Power owns 45.7 percent of the new units.) That reflects $381 million in capital and construction cost increases announced in previous reports, with much of that associated with an expected delay of roughly a year and a half announced last February. Also of note in the latest report, the company seems to have stemmed quality control problems at a Chicago Bridge & Iron (formerly Shaw Group) submodule plant in Lake Charles, La., that also affected two other AP1000s under construction at the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina. Per Southern's report on activity at Vogtle: "The company implemented a stop work order to assure only quality and compliant components are delivered to the Vogtle 3 and 4 site and continues to aggressively monitor the contractor’s review process for release of sub-modules from CB&I-Lake Charles. During the reporting period, significant progress has been made in this area, largely as a result of the contractor decision to deliver all remaining CA20 submodules to the site for inspection and repair work. The contractor established an extension of the Lake Charles facility on the Vogtle 3 and 4 site, Lake Charles-Vogtle, to perform this work that created parallel work paths to mitigate schedule impacts of delayed sub-module deliveries."A year ago, CB&I purchased the Shaw Group, becoming the lead contractor with Westinghouse for the Vogtle project. In its report, Southern was positive about the effect the acquisition has had on construction to date: "This change resulted in key leadership changes and the company has seen overall improvement in the contractor’s transparency, cooperation and communication as well as execution with a focus on quality and schedule."
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