Next generation of nuclear operators training at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle

ATLANTA, Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The next generation of nuclear operators is being trained in the most modern nuclear plant simulators in the world, at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro.

Over the next year and a half, more than 100 operators will be trained on the systems and integrated plant operations of the AP1000® reactor. This will involve using the two AP1000 control room simulators for 16 hours per day.

The two new nuclear energy facilities being built at Plant Vogtle will be the first in the United States to use the new Westinghouse AP1000 reactor technology.

“These are the most modern nuclear plant simulators in the world, designed to replicate the Vogtle unit 3 and 4 control rooms,” said Joseph “Buzz” Miller, executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear. “Because of Georgia Power’s solid commitment to building and operating a safe and reliable electric generating facility, the groundwork for the extensive and rigorous training programs for the next generation of nuclear plant operators has been in progress for years.”

The AP1000 control room simulator consists of 16 wide panel displays, quad panel work stations for the reactor operators and balance of plant operators, quad panel monitoring stations for shift supervisors and shift technical advisors, and dual panel monitoring stations at the back of the room which double as simulator control stations.

As construction moves along, the company has to get operators ready before fuel is loaded into the reactor. Because of the construction schedule, enough operators must be trained to operate both units before unit 3 comes on line. To manage such a large number of students, the training will be spread out over four groups of students with about 25 per class.

The training is delivered in two phases. The first phase is systems training for three months, and the second is simulator training for an additional three months. To accomplish this, training will be staggered so that as soon as one group finishes systems training and begins simulator training, another group will begin systems training.

Earlier this year, the Vogtle 3 and 4 training program was officially commissioned as a branch member of the National Academy of Nuclear Training. It was a history-making event, as this is the first new branch established by the Academy in 22 years. In March, the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations granted initial accreditation of the Vogtle 3 and 4 operator training programs.

The construction of Vogtle 3 and 4 is the largest job-producing project in Georgia, employing approximately 5,000 people during peak construction and creating 800 permanent jobs when the plant begins operating. Once completed, the new facility will produce enough electricity to power 500,000 Georgia homes and businesses.

The facility provides at least $2.2 billion more value to customers than the next best available technology, including natural gas generation, according to PSC staff. Georgia Power is in position to provide customers with up to $2 billion in potential benefits in the form of savings related to recovering financing costs during construction, DOE loan guarantee, production tax credits, lower-than-forecast interest rates and lower-than-forecast commodity costs.

Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is overseeing construction and will operate the two new 1,100-megawatt AP1000 units for Georgia Power and co-owners Oglethorpe Power Corporation, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities. Georgia Power owns 45.7 percent of the new units, with a certified cost of $6.1 billion.