By Lou Phelps, Coastal Empire News
April 11, 2017 - Unit 1 of the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Waynesboro, has safely resumed generating electricity following completion of a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage, according to Georgia Power.
Plant operators safely took the unit offline March 12, 2017, and it resumed electricity production April 4, 2017, at 7:18 p.m. ET. In addition to refueling the reactor and performing regular maintenance and testing, workers made upgrades to plant systems and components to enhance efficiency and reliability, according to the company.
The most significant upgrade for this outage was the installation of a digital controls system for the main turbine generator and associated equipment. A new Mark VIe system from GE replaces the plant's original analog control mechanisms. Vogtle's control room operators are now able to monitor and manipulate multiple turbine systems via touchscreens and keyboards. The new system has redundant backup systems which provide additional levels of safety beyond those that existed in the original design, according to an announcement.
"Safety is our top priority, and our team is to be commended for completing this outage safely and efficiently," said Keith Taber, site vice president for Vogtle units 1 and 2. "The work performed during this outage is a significant investment in our facility and enhances our ability to produce clean, safe, affordable and reliable nuclear energy for the next 18 months."
Nearly 1,300 additional workers from Westinghouse, General Electric, Day & Zimmermann, Williams Corporation and other companies came to the plant to perform special tasks. Employees from across the Southern Nuclear fleet also assisted Vogtle's team in the refueling effort.
The last refueling outage for Unit 1 was completed in fall 2015. Unit 2 continued to safely generate electricity while Unit 1 was offline for refueling.
Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), is a leader among the nation's nuclear energy facility operators; Southern Nuclear is an essential part of Southern Company's energy portfolio, and its importance will continue to grow as America transitions to a low-carbon energy future.
Southern Nuclear operates a total of six units for Alabama Power and Georgia Power at the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant near Dothan, Ala.; the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Plant near Baxley, Ga.; and the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Waynesboro, Ga.
Southern Nuclear is the licensee of two new nuclear units currently under construction at Plant Vogtle that are among the first nuclear units being constructed in the United States in more than 30 years. The lead construction company, Westinghouse, has now filed for bankruptcy protection.
The project is many millions over budget, and more than two years behind schedule.
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