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Construction Halted at SC Nuclear Power Plant
02 Agosto 2017, 09:59 | Bibiana Flor
Source Live 5/File
The abandonment Monday of a major nuclear-power expansion project in SC was a setback for the industry - shuttering one of the only active construction projects in the United States - but JEA remains a bit player as it hopes to add nuclear to its fuel mix in the coming years.
"Today's announcement is another powerful signal of how just how bleak the outlook for nuclear in the United States is, a result of a hollowed out nuclear industry, cheap gas, falling renewable costs and inadequate policies to account for the climate change costs of carbon emissions", Jason Bordoff, director of the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy. (SO +2%) and its planned Vogtle project in Georgia after Scana (SCG +3.7%) yesterday pulled the plug on its SC project.
"Ceasing work on the project was our least desired option, but this is the right thing to do at this time".
The partners in the SC project, SCANA and a supplier to electric cooperatives, Santee Cooper, said Monday that they made the decision because of rising costs of the $14 billion project, falling demand for electricity, construction delays and the bankruptcy of a key contractor.
The decision to suspend construction is based in large part on a comprehensive analysis of detailed schedule and cost data, from both project contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. and subcontractor Fluor Corp., first revealed after Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy in March. Both AP1000 nuclear projects are years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.
Westinghouse asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, N.Y., last week to give it until December 6 to file a plan of reorganization. The projected cost of a new nuclear reactor has multiplied many times over the past decade. Toshiba's payment will be $3.7 billion to Vogtle versus $2.2 billion to the Summer project, he said.
The decision to stop work on two unfinished nuclear reactors represents a major failure for SCE&G and Santee Cooper and a disaster for the utilities' ratepayers who might well pay for work that will never be finished.
Santee Cooper made a decision to stop building two nuclear power plants but company officials say they're still moving forward with plans to potentially increase rates over the next two years. It's billions of dollars over budget, years behind schedule and not likely to be finished by January 1, 2021, the deadline to receive tax credits.
The South Carolina power companies said they plan to use money from an anticipated $5.85bn settlement with Toshiba to recoup some of the billions spent on the project.
"Nuclear energy construction has consistently proved to be more expensive and time-consuming than projected". South Carolina's state government has no business whatsoever operating a utility company - as we've said ad nauseam over the years. "As we have been doing for more than 30 years, we will continue providing customers with a valuable low-priced, non-emitting source of generation through our operating nuclear unit at V.C. Summer". Stan Wise, the chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission, said Vogtle may be in a better position to proceed than the Scanaproject. "During the wind-down, Santee Cooper will also continue investigating federal support and additional partners to see if we can make the project economical again", Carter said. Still, Scana said the plants would face additional costs, casting doubt over whether they would be completed.
Nine billion dollars has been spent on the now-abandoned SC project and the state's utility customers have already been billed for some of the reactors' early costs.
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