Oglethorpe Marks Plant Vogtle Completion as a Crucial Clean Energy Resource

Oglethorpe Power is celebrating the startup of Unit 4 at Plant Vogtle, which will provide millions of co-op members with reliable, emission-free energy for decades. Oglethorpe owns 30% of the 4.5-gigawatt plant, which is now the largest U.S. nuclear power station. (Photo By: Georgia Power)

Georgia’s Plant Vogtle Unit 4 began operation on Monday, completing the first from-scratch expansion of advanced commercial nuclear energy in the U.S. in more than three decades and bringing the region’s electric cooperatives a source of reliable, clean energy well into the future, said Oglethorpe Power, a part-owner of the facility.

“We celebrate not only the completion of this important emission-free resource, but also the historic achievement it represents,” said Mike Smith, president & CEO of the generation co-op based in Tucker, Georgia.

“Oglethorpe Power and our members are committed to navigating the transition to cleaner energy while ensuring electricity remains reliable and affordable for electric cooperative consumers. The emission-free energy generated by Unit 4 will play a crucial role in helping us deliver on that mission for generations to come.”

Oglethorpe, with more than $16 billion in assets, provides power to 38 electric co-ops serving 4.4 million consumer-members.

Vogtle Unit 4’s start-up follows that of Unit 3 in July 2023. Oglethorpe owns 30% of the twin 1,100-megawatt reactors, which are expected to operate for the next 60 to 80 years, as well as 30% of the plant’s legacy units, 1 and 2.

The completion of the units makes the 4.5-gigawatt Plant Vogtle, first commissioned in 1987, the country’s largest nuclear power station. With Unit 4 online, Plant Vogtle is also now the largest generator of clean energy in the U.S.

“As we strive to meet our members’ existing and expanding power supply needs, clean nuclear energy will remain an essential source of dependable baseload power and a vital part of our energy mix,” Smith said.

Federal tax credits had a positive impact on the project, Smith said. Following years of advocacy by NRECA and Georgia electric co-ops, with strong bipartisan support from the Georgia delegation, Congress amended a nuclear production tax credit in 2018 to allow co-ops and municipal partners of new nuclear projects to receive the tax credits. Federal guidance clarified how the tax credit could be monetized just months prior to Unit 3 going commercial.

“The tax credits are already significantly lowering the energy costs for millions of Georgia co-ops and will result in hundreds of millions in savings for rural ratepayers during the eight-year life of the tax credit,” said Smith.

He attributed the safe and successful build at Vogtle to “the tireless efforts of thousands of workers at the site.” The expansion created 800 permanent jobs to manage both new units and was the state’s largest construction job producer, peaking at about 10,000, Smith said.

Southern Nuclear operates Plant Vogtle and owns 45.7% of the facility through its subsidiary, Georgia Power. Dalton Utilities and MEAG Power own the remaining 24.3%.

Cathy Cash is a staff writer for NRECA.