Vogtle Improves Safety and Productivity Following Westinghouse Bankruptcy

According to Georgia Power’s Eighteenth Semi-annual Vogtle Construction Monitoring Report (VCM) released on February 28, more than 12 million man-hours have been worked without a lost-time injury at the Vogtle expansion project since Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy on March 29, 2017.

Additionally, the company said productivity has improved since Southern Nuclear Operating Company assumed overall project management from Westinghouse.

Encouraging Trends

The VCM covers the period July 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017. Among the key tasks completed during the reporting period were the installation of both Unit 3 steam generators and the unit’s pressurizer. On Unit 4, key events included installation of modules CA02 and CA03.

Georgia Power hired 14 licensed operators from the V.C. Summer project during the timeframe, saving nearly two years of training time and cost for the employees, according to the company. V.C. Summer was a similarly designed AP1000 nuclear project being constructed in South Carolina. It was abandoned by owners SCANA Corp. and Santee Cooper on July 31, 2017.

The target in-service dates for the Vogtle units remain November 2021 and November 2022, respectively. However, Georgia Power said it is working toward completing construction on an accelerated schedule, with target completion dates of April 2021 and April 2022, respectively. As of January 2018, the company said engineering was 99.6% complete; procurement was 85.7% complete; construction was 48.5% complete; and the total project was 65.6% complete.

1. A changing landscape.
The Vogtle expansion project made progress even amidst uncertainty as owners considered options late last year including possible abandonment of the project. This image was taken December 14, 2017. Courtesy: Georgia Power

Risks Reduced

A recent extension to the Federal Production Tax Credit for advanced nuclear power projects was considered a big benefit for Georgia Power customers, as it lessened the risk associated with the expansion. Specifically, the project will qualify for a federal tax credit of more than $1 billion during the first eight years of operation.

Another project risk was eliminated during the period when Toshiba, parent company of Westinghouse, agreed to settle the Parent Guaranty stipulated in the engineering, procurement, and construction contract by paying $3.68 billion to project owners. It fulfilled that obligation on December 14, 2017.

Some of the milestones expected to be accomplished in 2018 include setting of the Unit 4 reactor vessel in March, placing of reinforced concrete for the Unit 3 shield building in June, setting of Unit 4 steam generator B in August, setting of the Unit 4 generator stator in November, and completing the Unit 3 main control room roof in December.

More than 6,000 workers are reportedly working onsite. Southern Nuclear is the project manager with global construction firm Bechtel managing daily construction efforts.

Aaron Larson, executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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