Since October 2020, the Vogtle site in the state of Georgia has seen a significant increase in Covid-19 cases, Georgia Power said. This increase, combined with “other productivity challenges”, continues to impact construction production and the pace of testing activity completion, it added.
Last year Georgia Power said it expected to begin hot functional testing in January 2021 and fuel loading in April 2021.
The two Vogtle AP1000 plants are the only two commercial reactor units under construction in the US.
The project is about 94% complete for Unit 3 with the total Vogtle-3 and -4 project approximately 88% complete.
Southern Company, of which Georgia Power is a subsidiary, said recently that the cost of the Vogtle nuclear station is growing, partly because of the Covid-19 outbreak and the rising number of workers diagnosed with the virus.
Southern forecast it will cost $149m more for its share of the project. It said subsidiary Georgia Power, which owns 45.7% of the Vogtle project, could eventually ask state regulators to charge customers for the increase, press reports in the US said.
Southern said the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect work at Vogtle, but it still expects to have the two new Generation III+ units operating by November 2021 and November 2022.
Unconfirmed press reports have quoted analysts saying costs for the two Vogtle plants have increased to more than $25bn due to delays related to the nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi in 2011 and the 2017 bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the technology supplier and the project’s former lead contractor.
Georgia Power, however, said its share of the total project cost forecast now stands at $8.5bn. In 2013 the corresponding figure was $4.8bn. In a 2019 report, the Georgia Public Service Commission said costs could be $17.1bn.