Approximately US$1.67 billion in additional Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantees for the new Vogtle units were recently closed.
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and North America's Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey joined Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Tom Fanning, Georgia Power Chairman, President and CEO Paul Bowers and hundreds of workers and special guests at the Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Georgia, to make the announcement.
"The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the administration's direction to revitalize and expand the U.S. nuclear industry," said Secretary Perry. "A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security. As I've witnessed first hand today, Vogtle is also an energy infrastructure project with a massive scope, employing thousands of workers. This project is rebuilding a highly skilled U.S. nuclear workforce and supply chain for the future."
Georgia Power had previously secured loan guarantees of US$3.46 billion for the construction of the new units, the first to be built in the United States in more than 30 years.
"Since the project began, we have committed to minimize the impact these new units will have on customers' bills, and securing these loans plays a key role by reducing our financing costs and passing along those benefits to our customers," said Bowers. "We thank the administration, DOE, Secretary Rick Perry and members of Congress for their continued support of the Vogtle 3 & 4 project."
Secretary Perry witnessed a milestone for the project — the placement of the top of the containment vessel for Unit 3, signifying that all modules and large components have been placed inside the unit.
"The progress we are marking today is a direct result of the tremendous support the project has received," said Fanning. "From the very beginning, public and private partners have stood with us as we endeavor to build the first new nuclear development in the U.S. in a generation. Everyone involved in the project remains focused on sustaining our momentum and is poised to execute the important work to come in the days ahead."
"We have made significant progress since taking over construction at the site and expect that momentum to continue this year," said Bowers. "Placement of the Unit 3 top head is a historic milestone for the project, reflecting the hard work and dedication of the Vogtle 3 & 4 team as we transition these units closer to operation."
The containment vessel is a high-integrity steel structure that houses critical plant components. The top head is 130 ft in diameter, 37-ft tall, and weighs nearly 1.5 million lb, more than two fully loaded jumbo jets. It comprises 58 large plates, welded together, each more than an inch and a half thick.
Georgia Power owns 45.7% of the new units, with the project's other co-owners including Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.
Others present at the loan closing announcement included Georgia Public Service Commissioners Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, Tim Echols, Chuck Eaton, Tricia Pridemore and Jason Shaw, along with U.S. representatives Rick Allen and Buddy Carter, and Vogtle 3 & 4 co-owners: Oglethorpe Power President and CEO Mike Smith, MEAG Power President and CEO Jim Fuller, and Dalton Utilities CEO Tom Bundros.
Progress and Productivity
With more than 7,000 workers currently onsite and more than 800 permanent jobs available once the units begin operating, Vogtle 3 & 4 is the largest jobs-producing construction project in the state of Georgia. Recruiting efforts continue to attract additional craft workers to the Vogtle 3 & 4 project, with more than 700 pipefitters, electricians and other craft labor joining the project since Nov. 1.
The project is approximately 75% complete. Several milestones have been achieved in recent months including:
- More than 23,000 cu yd of concrete was placed in 2018, and nearly 600,000 cu yd for the project to date, enough to build a sidewalk from Miami to Seattle. In addition, more than 16,200 yd, or nine miles, of piping was installed in 2018 alone.
- The Unit 4 pressurizer, which will provide pressure control inside the reactor coolant system once the unit begins operating, was placed inside the containment vessel in February.
- The integrated head package (IHP) was set inside the Unit 3 containment vessel in late January. The IHP, weighing 475,000 lb and standing 48 ft tall, combines several separate components in one assembly and allows the rapid removal of the reactor vessel head during a refueling outage.
- Progress also continues on the Unit 3 shield building, with additional double-decker panels placed in January. A total of eight six-panel sections have been placed, with each one being 20 ft tall and 114 ft wide, weighing up to 300,000 lb. To date, more than half of the shield building panels have been placed for Unit 3. The shield building panels, fabricated in Newport News, Va., provide structural support to the containment cooling water supply and protect the containment vessel, which houses the reactor vessel and associated equipment.