Georgia Power announced that fuel load into the Vogtle Unit 3 reactor core has begun at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Ga. The fuel load process marks a historic and pivotal milestone toward startup and commercial operation of the first new nuclear units to be built in the U.S. in more than three decades.
“The Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear units represent a critical, long-term investment in our state’s energy future, and the milestone of loading fuel for Unit 3 demonstrates the steady and evident progress at the nuclear expansion site,” said Chris Womack, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “We’re making history here in Georgia and the U.S. as we approach bringing online the first new nuclear unit to be built in the country in over 30 years. These units are important to building the future of energy and will serve as clean, emission-free sources of energy for Georgians for the next 60 to 80 years.”
The start of Unit 3 fuel load comes after Southern Nuclear received a historic 103(g) finding from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in August which signified that the new unit has been constructed and will be operated in conformance with the Combined License and NRC regulations.
During fuel load, 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.
Startup testing will begin next and 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 electric grid and systematically raise power to 100%. Vogtle Unit 3 is projected to enter service in the first quarter of 2023.
Southern Nuclear will operate the new unit on behalf of the co-owners: Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.
The new Vogtle units are an essential part of Georgia Power’s commitment to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to its 2.7 million customers. Once operating, the two new units, which will be clean energy sources that produce zero air pollution, are expected to power more than 500,000 homes and businesses.