Powering the future – Vogtle Unit 3 begins operation

Published 1:07 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Submitted by Andy Kimbro

Manager of Member Services

Southeast Alabama Electric Cooperative

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South Alabama Electric Cooperative’s commitment to powering homes and businesses 24/7/365 requires a diverse energy mix and has completed crucial steps toward keeping reliable power flowing in the future.

Georgia Power announced on July 31 the commercial operation of the new Unit 3 of Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Georgia. South Alabama Electric’s wholesale power supplier, PowerSouth, will purchase 125 megawatts of the carbon-free, zero-emission electricity generated by the Unit, which – along with the currently-under-construction Unit 4 – becomes the first newly-constructed nuclear asset in the United States in over three decades.

“Vogtle’s addition to the reliable energy mix that serves our community will have unparalleled value,” said General Manager David Bailey.  “It is dependable around the clock, and it will help protect our members from the cost of potential carbon restrictions in the future. Nuclear has the ability to provide large amounts of power with no air pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions.”

Unlike traditional fossil-fuel generation, nuclear plants do not burn anything but instead use uranium, a naturally occurring element, as fuel. The atoms in the fuel are split to generate heat, which produces steam. The steam pressure turns a turbine connected to a generator that spins to produce electricity. A half-inch uranium pellet creates as much energy as 149 gallons of oil, 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas and one ton of coal ore.

Vogtle Unit 4 will soon follow. Georgia Power reports the final stages of construction and testing are ongoing, and the cooperative just last week received final approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to begin fuel load and startup testing. 

Once online, Vogtle’s two new units will produce enough energy to power half a million homes. Across the U.S., nuclear energy supplies more than half of America’s carbon-free electricity.

Nuclear generation is a steady energy production resource while renewable sources, like wind and solar, are limited by the weather. The cost of nuclear electricity is also projected to remain stable over the long-term, making it a predictable resource when fuel prices rise.

As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, South Alabama Electric Cooperative will continue to keep expenses as low as possible and offer resources to help members manage use and energy bills. 

Visit our website at www.southaec.com for tips and tools.

Reliable nuclear energy will power communities for the future. It will provide the next generation of service and affordable electricity for years to come.