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America's Largest Nuclear Plant


A new reactor unit at Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear power plant went into commercial operation yesterday, capping a 15-year expansion that makes the site the single biggest producer of carbon-free energy in the country. 


The reactor, known as Unit 4, comes online less than a year after the similarly built Unit 3 was flipped on—together they were the first nuclear reactors constructed from scratch in the US in more than 30 years. The plant is expected to produce 30 million megawatt-hours of power annually, or roughly 23% of Georgia's total power consumption (though it will also service customers in Florida and Alabama).


The project was expected to begin producing power in 2016, but experienced significant delays and unexpected costs, driving the final price tag from $14B to $35B. Customer rates were raised a total of 10% to help cover financing. 


A single half-inch uranium pellet produces roughly the same amount of energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas or 1 ton of coal. See how commercial nuclear reactors work here.

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