Oct 27 (Reuters) – U.S. energy firm Southern Co (SON) Thursday cut its utility Georgia Power’s cost estimate of two nuclear reactors under construction at Georgia’s Vogtle plant to $10.383 billion from its previous forecast of $10.453 billion.
Vogtle’s reactors, already billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, are the only nuclear power plants under construction in the United States.
In an investor presentation of its third quarter results, Southern also met its previously scheduled 2023 in-service dates of the first quarter for Unit 3 and the fourth quarter for Unit 4.
Southern said in a statement that it has completed the initial fuel loading of Unit 3 of 157 fuel assemblies, from the spent fuel pool to the reactor core, and expects the plant to reach “initial criticality” in January.
When Georgia approved Vogtle’s expansion in 2009, the two 1,117-megawatt Westinghouse AP1000 reactors were expected to cost about $14 billion and go into service in 2016 and 2017.
Some analysts estimate that total costs, including funding, have soared to more than $30 billion following delays related to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2011 nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima plant and the bankruptcy in 2017 of Westinghouse, the former contractor of the project.
Vogtle owners include Georgia Power (45.7%), Oglethorpe Power Corp (30%), Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (22.7%) and Dalton Utilities (1.6%).
Over the summer, two of Vogtle’s partners — Oglethorpe in June and Dalton in July — said they wanted to freeze spending on the project. Their participation in the project will be recalculated later on the basis of the total cost of completing the reactors.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Bernadette Baum
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