Photo Courtesy Georgia Power Company
First nuclear expansion in more than two decades has struggled to meet program goals.

In terms of importance, Georgia Power's $14-billion-plus Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project stands alone. At a 2014 ceremony finalizing the project's $6.5 billion in federal loan guarantees, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz noted as much when he said, "This energy infrastructure build-out is not only for Georgia, not only for the United States, but for the world."


Initial industry hopes for the first U.S. nuclear expansion in more than 20 years held that contractors could overcome past schedule and cost concerns. But the reality has fallen far short, as nuclear-construction expert William Jacobs has repeatedly and unflinchingly pointed out to the Georgia Public Service Commission. Recently, for instance, he called out the contractor's lack of a credible project schedule as "counter to any prudent project management" and bottom-lined what no one else would admit: It is impossible to determine when this project will be completed.


"Only [Jacobs] gives a balanced presentation of the facts," says Jim McGaughy, consultant and founder of GDS Associates, Jacobs' employer. "The feeling when this project started was that it would be different this time with a new generation of nuclear projects. So far, it is not much different."

Jacobs tells ENR the project is "of utmost importance" to the global nuclear-energy industry and reiterates his insistence that builders "be transparent and provide accurate information to the public and the engineering and construction industry."