JEA: Plant Vogtle operator starts loading nuclear fuel

Jacksonville’s municipal utility has a 20-year power purchase agreement with MEAG for Georgia Power’s delayed plant expansion.

File photo: Nuclear Plant Vogtle's unit 3 and 4 expansion near Waynesboro, Georgia.
File photo: Nuclear Plant Vogtle's unit 3 and 4 expansion near Waynesboro, Georgia.
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Georgia Power announced Oct. 14 that it has started loading fuel into Unit 3 of the delayed nuclear Plant Vogtle expansion near Waynesboro, Georgia, a project expected to generate 206 megawatts of electricity for JEA .

In a news release, Jacksonville’s city-owned utility called the step “a milestone toward startup and commercial operation” for the first nuclear units to be built in the U.S. in more than 30 years at a cost of more than $30 billion.

“JEA welcomes this important and greatly anticipated development,” JEA CEO Jay Stowe said in the release.

“Once fully online, Plant Vogtle will allow JEA to add more zero carbon emission power to our energy mix, which helps us provide Northeast Florida with a reliable power supply that is also healthy for the climate and local environment.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists says a  typical carbon-emitting coal plant is about 600 megawatts.

JEA’s 2021 annual discourse report says the utility estimates it will pay $3.369 billion in capital costs for the $30.34 billion construction of the nuclear plant through a power purchase agreement with one of the four Vogtle co-owners, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

The Jacksonville utility signed what was then a $1.4 billion, 20-year agreement in 2008 to get power from the Plant Vogtle’s units 3 and 4 project.

When construction started in 2013, Georgia Power estimated the development cost to be $14.3 billion.

Georgia Power’s announcement comes after the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave Georgia Power affiliate Southern Nuclear the go-ahead in August to load fuel into Unit 3.

Georgia Power says Unit 3 will be operational in the first quarter of 2023. The company tells JEA officials Unit 4’s current expected operational date is December 2023.

According to the JEA release, nuclear technicians and operators from Westinghouse and Southern Nuclear are scheduled to safely transfer 157 fuel assemblies one-by-one from the Unit 3 spent fuel pool to the Unit 3 reactor core in the coming days followed by startup testing.

Georgia Power is majority owner of Plant Vogtle with smaller stakes owned by Oglethorpe Power Corp, MEAG and Dalton Utilities, according to Georgia Power’s website.

JEA does not have an ownership stake in the plant.

Georgia Power says Vogtle’s Units 3 and 4 will provide electricity to 2.7 million customers and power more than 500,000 home and businesses.




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