The only nuclear-power plant under construction in the U.S. is facing delays and additional costs. Again.
Earlier this week, an engineering expert working for the Georgia Public Service Commission testified that the startup of the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant would likely be delayed until the summer of 2022 and could cost $2 billion more than expected.
, the Atlanta-based utility building the nuclear-power plant, said it expects the first reactor to be completed during the first quarter of 2022. A spokesman for the company said its judgment was based on current information and that “risks remain on the project and it is possible that the cost estimate could increase in the future.”
Any delays after November 2021 would result in a reduction in the regulated profit that Southern subsidiary Georgia Power receives for building the nuclear reactor.
Vogtle has been beset by numerous delays and cost overruns. It was originally scheduled to open in 2016, and the total cost of the two planned Vogtle reactors tops $27 billion—more than double the initial estimates approved by state regulators in 2008.
The problems finishing Vogtle have lessened enthusiasm for what was hailed a decade ago as a possible nuclear renaissance in the U.S. Today, the facility located near Augusta, Ga., highlights the financial and industrial difficulty of building a nuclear-power plant in a country that hasn’t completed a new one in three decades.
Georgia almost gave up on the project amid cost overruns and delays. In 2017, state officials voted to continue building the reactors, but limited Southern’s future returns on the project if further postponements occurred. At the time, Southern promised that a new contractor would resolve construction delays. The utility later took a charge to its earnings and promised to have the first of two new reactors completed and generating electricity by November 2021.
“They will be late and they will pay a penalty,” said
vice chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission. “They were willing to negotiate then because they thought they would be on time. I think they are regretting it today.”
Over the past couple of years, work has progressed on the reactors. Southern is running what is known as a hot test to make sure everything is working properly at the plant before nuclear fuel is…
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