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Georgia Power submits test results on second Plant Vogtle nuclear reactor to feds

Georgia Power has completed a major step toward bringing the second of two nuclear reactors being built at Plant Vogtle into operation even as the first new unit is set to open this month.

Southern Nuclear, like Georgia Power a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co., has submitted all 364 inspections, tests, and analyses that have been performed on the second unit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Georgia Power reported Friday. The step is designed to assure the NRC that the reactor meets all nuclear safety and quality standards. Once the NRC declares that Southern Nuclear has met all license acceptance criteria, fuel loading can begin.

The second unit is scheduled to begin operating late this year or early next year.

Meanwhile, Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said the first unit remains on schedule to go into service by the end of this month.

The two reactors originally were expected to be in operation in 2016 and 2017. However, the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion ran into a series of delays that drove up the cost to more than twice the $14 billion estimated at the time the Georgia Public Service Commission approved the project more than a decade ago.

Critics have long maintained Georgia Power should have given up on the nuclear reactors and more aggressively pursued other sources of electrical generation.

Georgia Power officials have countered that nuclear power is the most efficient way to ensure the utility’s 2.7 million customers will enjoy reliable energy for the next 60 to 80 years. The company is building the new reactors in partnership with coowners Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.

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