U.S. set to build first nuke plant in 30 years

THREE DECADES HAVE passed since the last nuclear power plant was built in the United States. That long stretch of inactivity came to an end February 16 with the announcement by President Obama of $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for Southern Company’s Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Burke County, Ga. Southern will add two additional reactors (units 3 and 4), with a significant amount of work expected to be performed by Boilermakers.

U.S. government loan guarantees are seen as essential for new nuclear power plants because of their extremely high cost and associated investment risks. A total of $18.5 billion has already been budgeted for such loan guarantees, and the Obama administration plans to budget an additional $36 billion this year, for a total of $54 billion — enough to build a half dozen or so new power plants.

The Shaw Group and Westinghouse Electric Company will provide engineering, construction, and procurement services. The project is expected to employ some 3,000 workers at peak construction in 2014. Approximately 800 full-time jobs will be created.