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Thu May 06 2021

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Bechtel takes over troubled US nuclear project

1 Sep 17 Georgia Power has selected Bechtel to complete the US$19bn (£14.7bn) expansion of a nuclear power plant in the US state of Georgia.

Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4 will be the first new units built in the US in the last three decades and are currently the only new units being constructed in the country.

Georgia Power and the Vogtle project’s other co-owners had been forced to reassess the project following the bankruptcy in March of Westinghouse.  More than 6,000 workers from across the country remain on-site today working to complete the nation’s first new nuclear units in 30 years. Based on new assessments, the total estimated capital cost forecast for the total project is approximately US$19bn.

"This is a critically important project for the nation and we're honored to be chosen," said Barbara Rusinko, president of Bechtel's government services and commercial nuclear power business. "We are committed to the long-term future of nuclear power as a safe and reliable, 24/7 provider of carbon-free electricity."

Westinghouse’s bankruptcy has led to another nuclear project being abandoned (link opens in new tab).

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Bechtel will assume responsibility for a broad range of activities at Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4, including day-to-day construction through completion of the project under the management of Southern Nuclear, the Southern Company subsidiary that operates the existing two units at Plant Vogtle.

Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power’s recommendation to continue construction of the Vogtle nuclear expansion follows a comprehensive schedule, cost-to-complete and cancellation assessment. “Completing the Vogtle 3 & 4 expansion will enable us to continue delivering clean, safe, affordable and reliable energy to millions of Georgians, both today and in the future,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “The two new units at Plant Vogtle will be in service for 60 to 80 years and will add another low-cost, carbon-free energy source to our already diverse fuel mix."

Georgia Power, which owns 45.7% of the new units, has invested approximately US$4.3 billion in capital costs in the project through June 2017 and estimates that its cost to complete the project is approximately US$4.5 billion, for a total Georgia Power capital cost forecast of approximately US$8.8 billion. The Georgia PSC has already approved US$5.68 billion in capital costs for Georgia Power’s share of the project. With US$1.7 billion in anticipated payments from Toshiba, the company’s potential additional capital costs are approximately US$1.4 billion. Based on the new assessments, the total estimated capital cost forecast for 100% of the project is approximately US$19 billion.

The new reactors will be the first in the industry to use the Westinghouse AP1000 advanced pressurised water reactor technology, which allows nuclear cores to be cooled even in the absence of operator interventions or mechanical assistance. The AP1000 is the only Generation III+ reactor to receive design certification from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Georgia Power expects Vogtle Unit 3 will reach commercial operation in November 2021 and Unit 4 in November 2022. 

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