First U.S. Nuclear Reactor Built from Scratch in 30 Years Goes Online in Georgia

LI 184 Gerogia Nuclear Power Plant

by Leslie Eastman at

Unit 4 of the Vogtle Plant is expected to go into service during the late fourth quarter 2023 or the first quarter of 2024.

Citizens in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida are now benefiting from a substantial new addition to the region’s electrical power grid.

Southern U.S. utility company Georgia Power said Monday it started commercial operations at the new unit of a nuclear power plant, the first such facility to come online in the country in more than 30 years.

“Georgia Power declared today that Plant Vogtle Unit 3 has entered commercial operation and is now serving customers and the state of Georgia,” the company stated. “The new unit represents a long-term investment in the state’s clean energy future and will provide reliable, emissions-free energy to customers for decades to come.”

The Energy Department expects only incremental gains in nuclear power capacity, with the share increasing only 1% to 20% of the total grid’s electricity by next year. But with the addition of Vogtle, total nuclear capacity is expected to expand by 2% over the next six months, compared with the second half of 2022.

Higher costs and construction delays have been a drag on an industry that is trying to take advantage of being an alternative to fossil fuels that is actually energy-efficient…and not dependent on weather or shipments of rare earth elements from China.

…[I]nterest in nuclear energy has been increasing significantly in recent years as the sense of urgency in responding to climate change has pushed demand for clean energy. Nuclear energy contributed 47% of America’s carbon-free electricity in 2022, according to the DOE, and has contributed about 20% of the nation’s overall energy since the 1990s.

Unit 4 of the Vogtle Plant is expected to go into service during the late fourth quarter 2023 or the first quarter of 2024, Georgia Power said on Monday. Georgia Power owns 45.7% of the Vogtle Power Plant, the Oglethorpe Power Corporation owns 30%, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia owns 22.7%. and Dalton Utilities owns 1.6%.

Of course, nothing in life is free.

In Georgia, almost every electric customer will pay for Vogtle. Georgia Power currently owns 45.7% of the reactors. Smaller shares are owned by Oglethorpe Power Corp., which provides electricity to member-owned cooperatives, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton. Oglethorpe and MEAG plan to sell power to cooperatives and municipal utilities across Georgia, as well in Jacksonville, Florida, and parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

Georgia Power’s 2.7 million customers are already paying part of the financing cost and elected public service commissioners have approved a monthly rate increase of $3.78 a month for residential customers as soon as the third unit begins generating power. That could hit bills in August, two months after residential customers saw a $16-a-month increase to pay for higher fuel costs.

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