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Bechtel’s Impact Report

Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4

Waynesboro, Georgia
Plant Vogtle Aerial Photo

Building the Next Generation of Nuclear Power in the US

Tasked with delivering the next generation of nuclear power in the U.S., Bechtel was hired by Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear in 2017 to complete the construction of two new AP1000 nuclear reactors, Units 3 & 4, at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia. These are the first new nuclear reactors to be built in the United States in more than 30 years.

Bechtel has completed construction on both units, and Unit 3 and Unit 4 have entered into commercial operations, which means all the testing has been completed, and the unit is available for reliable dispatch.

With this milestone, Plant Vogtle is the largest generator of clean energy anywhere in the U.S. with each of the new units capable of generating enough electricity to power an estimated 500,000 homes and businesses.

The Westinghouse AP1000 is a Generation III+ advanced pressurized water reactor that relies on gravity and natural circulation for core cooling, even in the absence of operator intervention or mechanical assistance. Vogtle Units 3 & 4 are the first Generation III+ units built in the U.S.

Designed and licensed to operate for 60 years, Vogtle Units 3 & 4 will significantly reduce the amount of carbon emissions. This is the equivalent of taking 1,000,000 cars off the road every year.

Bechtel’s journey at Plant Vogtle began more than 20 years ago when we helped to build Vogtle Units 1 & 2, which were brought online in the 1980s. Units 1 & 2 have been renewed to operate until 2047 and 2049, respectively, which is 20 years beyond the previous licenses.

Image of Brendan Bechtel, Chairman and CEO, Bechtel

Congratulations to Georgia Power, Southern Nuclear, the thousands of craft professionals at site, and our partners at the North America's Building Trades Unions for making this milestone possible. Bechtel is proud to be your partner in providing cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable energy… and to the entire team at Vogtle, your Bechtel teammates are watching and rooting for you with much admiration. 

Brendan Bechtel, Chairman and CEO, Bechtel

Key Facts

  • 1,000,000
    At full-operations, Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4 will provide safe and reliable energy to 1 million homes and businesses in the Southeast.
  • 9,000 jobs on site
    At peak construction, Plant Vogtle supported more than 9,000 jobs on site.
  • 800 permanent jobs
    Once complete, Plant Vogtle will support 800 permanent jobs.

Reactors at Plant Vogtle. Photo by John Howanitz, President, NS&E, Bechtel.

Photo by John Howanitz, President, NS&E, Bechtel  

In 2017, Bechtel was brought in by Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear to take over construction of the Waynesboro, Georgia-based plant, bringing our extensive experience supporting the design and construction of 150 nuclear plants worldwide.

Bechtel’s nuclear expertise began in 1951 when our colleagues helped the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission make history by building the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I in Idaho. The plant was the first use of nuclear fission to generate electricity.

Since then, Bechtel has added more than 76,000 megawatts of new nuclear generation capacity to the world. Our experience also includes providing engineering and/or construction services to 80% of U.S. nuclear plants.

Vogtle Units 3 and 4 are the first U.S. deployment of the Westinghouse AP1000 Generation III+ reactor.  The reactor is an evolutionary improvement over existing reactors. In addition to advanced safety systems, the AP1000 has a smaller footprint and simpler design, and uses less piping, valves, and pumps than older designs.  

Project Impact

Plant Vogtle, based in Waynesboro, is an essential part of Southern Company’s goal to be net zero by 2050 and Georgia Power’s commitment to deliver clean and affordable energy to its customers, especially as the state’s population expands by a projected more than 4 million by 2030.

Largest Jobs-Producing Site in Georgia

The project was the country’s second-largest construction project and the largest jobs-producing construction site in the state of Georgia, with as many as 9,000 workers on site at the peak of construction and more than 800 permanent jobs available once the units begin operating.

Through our partnership with NABTU, we successfully staffed the project at the time by utilizing Apprenticeship Readiness Programs (ARPs) and hiring veterans through Helmets to Hardhats. More than 30% of Vogtle hires were veterans and reservists.

ARP apprentices have the opportunity to “earn while they learn” working toward journeyperson status while receiving healthcare and retirement benefits. More than 40% of ARP apprentices at Vogtle were women, and more than 80% were from underrepresented groups.

Protecting Native Species

Out of the site’s 3,100 acreage, nearly one-third is devoted to supporting native species and replanting loblolly and longleaf pine trees. Plant Vogtle has been a certified wildlife habitat by the Wildlife Habitat Council since 1993, and it has a Safe Harbor Agreement with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to protect the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

Protecting the native floral and fauna has been an essential component to the Vogtle team’s work on site. We work with local bird rehabilitation facilities to successfully rehabilitate threatened and protected bird species, including the peregrine falcon and turkey vulture. Additionally, the Vogtle team works with local beekeepers to protect the bee population. Together, they have collected and relocated honeybees to established hive areas, preserving a vital resource for the local environment.

Benefits of Nuclear Power

Nuclear energy is the largest clean energy source in the U.S., producing more carbon-free electricity than all other sources combined, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In 2020, data showed that nuclear energy generated more than half of the U.S.’s emission-free electricity, which was:

  • More than 2.5 times the amount generated by hydropower,
  • More than 2 times the amount from wind, and
  • More than 8 times the amount from solar power.

Additionally, Plant Vogtle will prevent up to 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to removing one million cars from the road each year.

The energy created from one uranium fuel pellet, which is about the size of a fingertip, is comparable to one ton of coal or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, and unlike renewables, nuclear energy is “baseload” power available 24/7 regardless of sun or wind.

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