A new reactor at a Georgia nuclear plant has begun safely splitting atoms, putting the unit at Southern Co.’s Plant Vogtle one step closer to commercial operation, according to E&E News’ ENERGYWIRE (subscription).
- “Units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle will be the first new nuclear units built in the United States in over three decades, according to Southern’s website.”
What’s going on: “Vogtle Unit 3 reached a stage called ‘initial criticality’ … creating nuclear heat that will be used to make steam, [plant operator and Southern Co. subsidiary] Georgia Power said in a news release.”
- The facility is being expanded from its existing two reactors to a total of four in partnership with a group of public utilities.
Why it’s important: Nuclear is a reliable, affordable, carbon-free energy source. Once in operation, Units 3 and 4 will generate enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes and businesses, according to Southern Co.’s website.
The reaction: The Energy Department tweeted “LET’S GET CRITICAL” following word of the milestone, which it called “HUGE news.”
Next up: Unit 3 is set for a May or June opening, and Unit 4 will come online in the fourth quarter of this year or early 2024, Southern Co. has said.