SCE&G: Cost, build delays expected up for SC nuke reactors

AP News
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Posted: Mar 13, 2015 1:49 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The company that owns a majority stake in new nuclear reactors in South Carolina said this week it wants approval to spend more on the project and finish construction later than expected.

SCANA Corp. CEO Kevin Marsh said Friday that he has asked for a hearing before state regulators regarding the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, about 25 miles northwest of Columbia.

Marsh says SCANA and its electric utility component, SCE&G, originally anticipated that it would need to spend around $660 million due to construction delays. Now, Marsh says that number is around $698 million.

One reactor is already in use at Summer, and Santee Cooper and SCANA are partnering up to build two more. The new reactors are among the first of their kind to be built in the United States in more than 30 years, slated to come online in 2019 and 2020.

Those dates are each more than two years past the original completion estimates for the new reactors. SCANA is required to update the Public Service Commission whenever it may miss a major construction milestone by more than 18 months.

No cost increases will be reflected in customers' bills until the new facilities are up and running, according to the CEO, who said a variety of factors could mean less impact, despite the overall increased costs. Customers could also ultimately benefit from an additional $1.2 billion in expected tax credits, and Marsh also said low inflation could mean a savings of more than $200 million in contractor bills.

"We're not talking about new costs but a revised number," Marsh said, of the $698 million figure. "We believe customers are going to pay the same, possibly less than what we told them in 2008."

Other nuclear projects in the country have experienced delays and cost overruns. Last month, Georgia Power officials told that state's regulators that their share of the cost of expanding Plant Vogtle, a nuclear facility near Augusta, had reached roughly $7.5 billion, surpassing the initial $6.1 billion estimated price tag from 2009.

If other companies involved faced costs similar to Georgia Power, the plant's total price tag would stand at more than $17 billion. Total delays for that project are roughly three years.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP