$14bn Vogtle nuclear project includes transmission upgrade

A group led by Southern Co.’s (NYSE: SO) subsidiary Georgia Power was approved Feb. 9 for the nation’s first new nuclear plant license in more than 30 years and the $14bn project will also include a substantial electric transmission upgrade, a company spokesperson told TransmissionHub Feb. 9.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted 4-1 to approve the combined construction and operating license for Vogtle units 3 and 4. The two new Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors will be located alongside the existing two Vogtle units near Waynesboro, Ga.

The current transmission infrastructure, however, will need to be upgraded to handle more than 2,000 MW in additional electric generation from the new nuclear units, a Southern spokesperson said.

A new 500-kV transmission line must be built to Thomson Primary substation from the Vogtle complex to add the necessary transmission infrastructure.

The 55-mile line begins at the Thomson Primary substation southeast of Thomson and ends at the Vogtle plant in Burke County, the spokesperson said. The route runs through four counties: Burke, Jefferson, Warren, and McDuffie. Existing transmission line corridors were utilized over approximately 13 miles of the line route, the company official added.

Georgia Power is developing the nuclear project along with Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG), and the City of Dalton, Ga.’s municipal utility.

There are still several things left to occur before the new nuclear units and related infrastructure can become reality, Southern Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Fanning said in a conference call on the NRC approval.

Southern and its partners must still finalize a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) federal loan guarantee. Negotiations with DOE are underway and Fanning expects things to be completed in the second quarter of 2012.

The project has been in the works for years and undergone extensive NRC vetting, so it should withstand any legal challenge, Fanning predicted. 

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.