The Department of Energy has approved a new service contract for Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear project that gives an affiliate of the utility’s parent company oversight of the construction job.
Under the new agreement, Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Co., which operates the existing units 1 and 2 at Vogtle, will oversee construction for units 3 and 4 that are being built in Wayneboro, Ga.
The agreement resolves months of negotiations and uncertainty following the March bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, the primary contractor for Vogtle.
Construction activity at Vogtle did not stop after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March, but the fate of the project was thrown into question. The new service agreement resolves one of the issues overhanging the project, but its fate is still uncertain.
In addition to replacing Westinghouse as the primary contractor for Vogtle, the agreement also stipulates that Westinghouse will provide engineering, procurement and licensing support, as well as access to intellectual property needed for the project.
The intellectual property associated with the project became an issue when Westinghouse sought to post its intellectual property as collateral against an $800 million loan to get it through bankruptcy.
That issue was resolved, but others remain, mainly, how long it will take and how much it will cost to finish the project. Georgia Power says it is working with Vogtle’s co-owners, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, to complete a full-scale schedule and cost-to-complete analysis. Once complete, the utility says it will work with the Georgia Public Service Commission to determine the best path forward for customers.
"We are already in the midst of a seamless transition for the thousands of workers across the site, allowing us to sustain the progress we are making every day on both units," Mark Rauckhorst, executive vice president for the Vogtle 3 and 4 project, said in a statement.