For the nine years of construction of the Plant Vogtle reactors, details of the risks to the project were not included in the biannual reports to state regulators.
However, last week, Georgia Power included the risks, which may signal delays, additional costs and probable challenges in the initial testing of the reactors if left unchecked.
The new format for the reports follows recommendations from Public Service Commission Advisory staff.
“We have asked for these types of reports for several years and finally… they are coming forth now,” said PSC chairman Lauren McDonald.
Georgia Power has cited contractual constraints with Westinghouse, the former project manager, as the reason it was prevented from releasing the details in the past.
Edwin Lyman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he is concerned with two issues cited in the report: craft labor shortages and the need to rework already completed work.
Lyman said the management change from Westinghouse to Southern Nuclear may have revealed improper work related to critical components key to the safety of the plant.
“The question is how much of the work already done has to be redone and will that affect their ability to complete the project in the right time that they predict?” Lyman said.
As for the craft labor shortages which the company sees as an ongoing problem, the utility company said it will continue to recruit additional workers, particularly in the electrical and pipefitting fields.
According to the report, the project is past the halfway mark, and is now approaching the initial testing stage.
Vogtle’s tab has nearly doubled since construction began with the latest increase by an additional $2.3 billion announced just last month. Georgia Power maintains that “the revised forecast and new contingency should be sufficient to take the project to completion.”
In the latest filing, Georgia Power seeks to recover $578 million, which the company said was spent on Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors in the six months ending June 30. The PSC will decide in November whether to approve or disallow those costs.
Project risks as highlighted by Georgia Power:
- The inability by the project to meet the schedule despite having enough resources.
- The risk that subcontractor scope is identified after the award of all suncontract scopes.
- Inability to mainitain and improve performance
- Being unable to attract and retain sufficiently skilled craft needed to complete project within schedule.
- The risk of underestimating material and labor costs during start up