Georgia Power to Expand Nuclear Plant
Associated Press 04.09.08, 9:28 AM ET
Georgia Power Co. has reached an agreement with Westinghouse Electric Co. and The Shaw Group to design and build two 1,100-megawatt nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in east Georgia, which is co-owned with other utilities and already is home to two reactors.
The company, Georgia's largest electric utility, said Tuesday that it plans to submit the engineering agreement to the state Public Service Commission by May 1. The proposed reactors also would require approval by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The cost of the reactors was not disclosed, but estimates range up to $6 billion. Months of difficult negotiations had threatened to derail the project.
Combined with the existing reactors, the units would make Plant Vogtle, along the Savannah River southeast of Augusta, one of the nation's largest generators of nuclear power.
The expansion would double the facility's employment to 1,800 and create thousands of temporary construction jobs.
Georgia Power (nyse: GPB - news - people ) is the majority owner of the plant, formally the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, along with Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities.
"If the PSC approves, we are going forward with the new units," Georgia Power spokeswoman Carol Boatright said.
PSC Commissioner Stan Wise, one of five members of the utility regulating panel, said he was optimistic that it would be approved.
"Given the global run on fossil fuels and the corresponding high prices, I am pleased that Georgia Power is keeping the option of nuclear generation open through the Westinghouse contract to potentially build two nuclear reactors," Wise said in a prepared statement.
Last month Southern Nuclear Operating Co., a sister company of Georgia Power that runs the plant, filed an application with the NRC for a combined construction and operating license for the new units. Approval is expected next year, and the reactors could begin operation in 2016-2017.
No new nuclear power plant projects have been licensed since the partial meltdown in 1979 at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.
At least three other companies have filed applications with the NRC: Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Resources (nyse: D - news - people ) Inc. to add a reactor at its North Anna Power Station in Virginia; the Tennessee Valley Authority (nyse: TVC - news - people ), for new reactors at the Bellefonte station near Scottsboro, Ala.; and NRG Energy Inc. (nyse: NRG - news - people ), to build and operate new reactors at its Bay City, Texas, power plant site.
The NRC has predicted it will get new combined construction and operating license applications for as many as 29 reactors at 20 sites nationwide, most in the South, over the next three years.
Georgia Power said that under current contracts, Oglethorpe Power has rights to up to 30 percent of Vogtle's output, MEAG up to 22.7 percent and Dalton Utilities 1.6 percent. Georgia Power's share is 45.7 percent.
An executive of Southern Co., Georgia Power's parent company, said last week that the reactors would cost between $2,500 and $3,500 for each kilowatt of capacity.
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