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Federal Nuclear Regulators Authorize Fuel Loading And Operation At New Georgia Unit

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has authorized Southern Nuclear Operating Company to load nuclear fuel and begin operation at Vogtle Unit 3 in Georgia, the first reactor to reach this point in the agency’s combined license process.

The NRC’s decision moves Vogtle Unit 3, adjacent to the operating Units 1 and 2, near Waynesboro, Georgia, out of the construction reactor oversight program and into the operating reactor oversight process.

Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 are two 1,100-megawatt Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors being constructed in Burke County, Ga.

“The team at the site continues working diligently to make final preparations for Unit 3 fuel load, initiate startup testing and bring the unit online,” Southern, an investor-owned utility, noted on Aug. 3.

“Over the next several weeks, well-trained and highly qualified nuclear technicians will continue work required to support loading fuel, which is already onsite, into the unit's reactor. This will be followed by several months of startup testing and operations,” the utility said.

Startup testing is designed to demonstrate the integrated operation of the primary coolant system and steam supply system at design temperature and pressure with fuel inside the reactor. Operators will also bring the plant from cold shutdown to initial criticality, synchronize the unit to the grid and systematically raise power to 100%.

Florida public power utility JEA, the City of Jacksonville and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power) in 2020 announced a settlement of all disputed issues relating to the new Units 3 and 4 of the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant and an amended and restated power purchase agreement.

The Vogtle Electric Generating Plant is jointly owned by Georgia Power (45.7%), Oglethorpe Power Corporation (30%), Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (22.7%) and Dalton Utilities (1.6%).

Additional information about Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 is available here.