Georgia Power announced today the completion of the latest major milestone in the construction of Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 near Waynesboro, Georgia. On Thursday, the project team successfully placed the Unit 4 containment vessel bottom head (CVBH) into that unit's nuclear island.
The CVBH weighs more than 1.8 million pounds, or 900 tons, and is nearly 38 feet tall and 130 feet wide. The component consists of dozens of individual steel plates and was fabricated on site by CB&I, the project's contractor.
The CVBH was lifted into place using a 560-foot tall heavy lift derrick, one of the largest cranes in the world, and took about four hours. The placement of this component is the latest illustration of the continued progress of the construction of the two new nuclear units, which use AP1000 technology and are among the first nuclear units to be built the U.S. in 30 years. Once the new units come online, Plant Vogtle will be the only four-unit nuclear facility in the country.
Since the beginning of 2014, the project has marked several other major milestones including placement of the 460-ton CR10 module (or cradle) into the Unit 4 nuclear island in February and the 2.2 million-pound CA20 module for Unit 3 in March. The CR10 module, which resembles a concave bowl with a hollow center, is the structure upon which the CVBH rests.
Increased efficiency is being achieved throughout Unit 4 construction and can be attributed to the successful implementation of lessons learned from previous construction on Unit 3. Additionally, the initiation of the Operations Control Center (OCC), an on-site facility staffed 24 hours a day, is providing a central point for reporting, analysis and resolution of project challenges. The meeting of major Unit 4 milestones such as placement of basemat rebar, basemat concrete, and the CR10 module are direct results of both the OCC and implementation of lessons learned.
The Vogtle 3 and 4 expansion is part of Georgia Power's long-term, strategic plan for providing safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy for Georgians over the next 60 years. The expansion is the largest job-producing project in the state, employing approximately 5,000 people during peak construction and creating 800 permanent jobs when the plant begins operating.
Construction of both units is progressing well with commercial operation dates remaining fourth quarter of 2017 for Unit 3 and fourth quarter of 2018 for Unit 4. Once the units enter service, fuel efficiencies from nuclear generation combined with ongoing customer benefits such as the recently finalized federal loan guarantees, are expected to put downward pressure on customer rates — cementing the project's status as the most economic choice for meeting Georgia's future energy needs.
Southern Nuclear, a unit of Southern Co., is overseeing construction and will operate the two new 1,100 MW AP1000 units for Georgia Power and co-owners Oglethorpe Power Corp., the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities. Georgia Power owns 45.7 percent of the new units.