ATLANTA – Georgia Power has completed cold hydro testing for the second of two additional nuclear reactors being built at Plant Vogtle, confirming the reactor’s coolant system functions as designed, the utility announced Wednesday.

The completion of cold hydro testing is required to support the last major test remaining at the facility’s Unit 4, hot functional testing, which Georgia Power expects to begin by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Meanwhile, the first of the new reactors, Unit 3, is due to go into service early next year.

“The team at the Vogtle 3 & 4 site continues to make important progress as we move closer to bringing online the first new nuclear units to be built in the country in over 30 years,” said Chris Womack, Georgia Power’s chairman, president, and CEO. “These units are a long-term investment for our state and essential to building the future of energy for Georgia.”

The completion of the nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle south of Augusta has been a long time coming. The two reactors were originally expected to go into service in 2016 and 2017, respectively. But the work was delayed by the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, the original prime contractor on the project, as well as pandemic-related disruptions to the construction workforce.

The delays caused a series of cost overruns that more than doubled the original expected price tag of $14 billion.

The project’s critics have complained for years that Georgia Power could have found less expensive ways to increase its power generating capacity to meet the needs of a growing number of customers, including renewable sources of energy. Indeed, the two new nuclear reactors coming online will account for a significant portion of a series of rate increases the utility intends to seek from the state Public Service Commission during the next couple of years.

Georgia Power officials say the two new units are expected to power more than 500,000 homes and businesses with emission-free energy. Southern Nuclear, a Georgia Power subsidiary, will operate the new units on behalf of four co-owners: Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.