The company said it expects to begin fuel loading in April 2021. In order to receive nuclear fuel, construction of specific areas of Unit 3 had to be completed and inspected, ensuring critical infrastructure, such as the fuel vault and spent fuel pool, meet construction quality and design requirements.
One of the last major milestones for Unit 3 is hot functional testing, which needs to take place before the fuel is loaded. Hot testing takes place over a number of weeks and consists of tests performed on major systems to check their performance under normal operational conditions, without any nuclear fuel assemblies in the reactor.
Georgia Power said in October that hot functional testing at Vogtle-3 could begin in January 2021.
Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear, the companies building the Vogtle-3 and -4 Generation III Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear plants, recently said schedules for pre-commissioning tests had been revised because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Georgia Power said it was aiming to begin hot functional testing in January, but this could start as late as the end of March 2021 and fuel load could occur as late as mid-year 2021. This would still to allow the site to meet the regulatory-approved in-service date for Unit 3 of November 2021. Cold functional testing was completed earlier this month.
“Georgia Power continues to expect to meet its commitment to achieve the regulatory-approved in-service dates for both Units (November 2021 for Unit 3 and November 2022 for Unit 4),” a statement said.
Georgia Power said recently that the project is about 94% complete for Unit 3 with the total Vogtle-3 and -4 project approximately 88% complete.
The two plants are the only two commercial reactor units under construction in the US.