First US Nuclear Reactor Built from Scratch in Decades Goes Live – Costs $21B More Than Anticipated

July 31, 2023
Georgia Power’s 2.7 million customers will be responsible for part of this bill, and commissioners are still negotiating who will pay the remainder

Georgia Power Co., a subsidiary of Southern Company, announced its Unit 3 nuclear reactor at Plant Vogtle near Augusta, Georgia is now fully operational and supplying up to 1,100 MW of electricity to utilities in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Unit 3 is the first nuclear reactor in decades to be built in the United States entirely from scratch, and with its activation, nuclear power now comprises 25% of Georgia Power’s energy generation portfolio.

A fourth reactor at Plant Vogtle is also nearing completion and is expected to begin commercial operations by early 2024.

“This project shows just how new nuclear can and will play a critical role in achieving a clean energy future for the United States,” said Southern Company CEO Chris Womack. “Bringing this unit safely into service is a credit to the hard work and dedication of our teams and the thousands of additional workers who have helped build that future at this site.”

While government officials and some utilities have begun looking to nuclear power as an energy generation initiative that avoids nonrenewable sources, such as coal and oil, many have questions concerning the potentially costly nature of these projects.

For example, Georgia Power’s third and fourth reactors were originally anticipated to cost up to $14 billion but are now on track to total nearly $35 billion. Georgia Power’s 2.7 million customers will be responsible for part of this bill, resulting in a $3.78 monthly rate increase, which comes only months after residents experienced a $16-a-month increase to pay for higher fuel costs. Commissioners are still in negotiations to decide who will pay for the remainder of the bill.