Georgia Power seeks to speed up Vogtle nuclear plant project

20 February 2019

Southern Company, parent of Georgia Power, is seeking to speed up work on the expansion of the Vogtle power plant in Burke County, Georgia, to meet cost and schedule targets.

Southern Co. expects productive work at the nuclear project to increase and will refine its construction plan, Chief Executive Thomas Fanning said in a call with investors to discuss the company’s FY18 earnings today. 

 

Under the expedited plan, Georgia Power, the majority owner of the project, plans to finish two nuclear reactors by April 2021 and April 2022. The investor-owned utility must complete the project by November 2021 and November 2022, according to its agreement with regulators. 

 

Georgia Power measures its operations at the plant by a metric called Cost Performance Index (CPI). At a score of 1, the utility would meet its cost estimates for the November deadlines. Any score above 1 signifies that the project is behind its cost schedule. Since October 2017, Georgia Power has averaged a score of 1.15, according to charts accompanying the earnings presentation. 

 

Assuming Georgia Power averages 110,000 productive working hours/week, it will meet the November 2021 and 2022 deadlines, Fanning said. The utility averaged 141,000 productive working hours/week at Vogtle in February, he said, adding that the number of productive working hours should increase as more staff become familiar with the project and their skills develop. 

 

“We are focused on sustaining this progress throughout 2019 and into spring of 2020,” Fanning said. 

 

The Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG) owns 22.7% of the USD 27.5bn project and has tied some of its interest to public utility JEA in the form of a power purchase agreement (PPA). JEA has sought to leave the project and filed a lawsuit against

MEAG over the validity of the PPA in September 2018. 

 

Georgia Power was due to present a progress report on Vogtle to Georgia’s Public Service Commission (PSC), but asked more time to revise its schedule. The PSC approved the request on 19 February, despite opposition from some environmental organizations. 

 

“We expect to conclude that the rebaseline effort prior to our first quarter call and Georgia Power will file a report with the Georgia PSC reflecting the result no later than May 15. The [PSC] staff will then have until July 31st to file their observation on the outcome of the rebaseline process with the commission,” Fanning said. 

 

The Vogtle project is about 74% complete, he said. 

 

by Patrick Ferguson