Saturday, April 11, 2009

Southern breaks ground at Vogtle

Shaw will build two Westinghouse AP1000s for Georgia Power

greenlightSouthern Nuclear has given a green light to Westinghouse and Shaw to break ground for two new reactors. The firms have signed an Engineering & Procurement Contract (EPC) with Georgia Power. Each AP1000 will produce 1,105 MW of power. The units will be located next to two other nuclear reactors which are already in service. The facility is located near Waynesboro, GA, about 30 miles due south of Augusta, GA, and very near the border with South Carolina.

Georgia Power received a go-ahead from the state public service commission in March. That approval also allows the company to recover the cost of building the plants from ratepayers while construction is in progress.

Southern’s application for a combined construction and operating license (COL) for the Georgia Power facility is still pending before the NRC. However, in February the review process reached the point where the regulatory agency’s rules allow early site work and start up of construction activities. The trigger was the NRC’s release of the final safety evaluation based on the Early Site Permit for the two new plants. Full construction, which will employ several thousands workers, cannot start until the NRC issues the COL which is expected in mid-2011.

Got nuclear in Georgia!

The new reactors will join an existing massive nuclear site. Vogtle is one of Georgia Power's two nuclear facilities and is one of three nuclear facilities in the Southern Company system.

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Unit 1 began commercial operation in May 1987. Unit 2 began commercial operation in May 1989. Each unit is capable of generating 1,215 MW for a total capacity of 2,430 MW. The plant is powered by pressurized water reactors (PWR) manufactured by Westinghouse. The turbines and electric generators are manufactured by General Electric.

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 the City of Dalton (1.6%).

Other new nuclear projects pending

First mover advantageOther new nuclear projects which are “first-movers” for the industry at NRG’s South Texas Project and Progress Energy’s Levy County, FL, plant. Plants that are further along have a better opportunity to win loan guarantees from the federal government and other power generation incentives.

The NRG project will involve two GE-Hitachi ABWRs and the Progress site will support two Westinghouse AP1000s. Both projects are in similar early stages of development.

NRG/Toshiba

NRG has hired Toshiba to be its Engineering & Procurement Contractor (EPC) for the delivery of two Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) nuclear power plants at the South Texas Project (STP). The plants, the first ABWR constructed in the United States, will have an output of 1,350 MW each, and are scheduled to start operation in 2016 and 2017.

Toshiba is responsible for all engineering work prior to the start of plant construction, for procurement of major equipment and components, and for supporting the licensing process.

Progress Energy

Westinghouse and Shaw also have an EPC contract with Progress with a commitment for the two new plants to be built on Florida’s west coast which are expected to enter revenue service in 2016. A Westinghouse spokesperson said construction would involve about 3,000 people and once the plant enters revenue service it will require 500 skilled workers.

The Levy County nuclear plant, at an estimated cost of $16 billion, will be among the most expensive construction projects ever undertaken in Florida. If completed on schedule in 2016, it will be the first nuclear power plant brought online in the state in more than 30 years. About 20% of the extra costs associated with the plant are new transmission and distribution infrastructure to deliver the electricity to Florida’s major cities.

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