Another Vogtle Debacle? Cost Overruns, Delays And Construction Woes Bedevil
V.C. Summer Reactor Project In S.C., Says Friends Of The Earth
COLUMBIA, S.C., Jan. 16, 2014
Six rate increases already imposed on S.C. consumers, project now eating up
estimated 11 percent of utility bills
COLUMBIA, S.C., Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The $1 billion cost
overrun, lengthening project delays and construction problems at Southern
Company's troubled Vogtle nuclear reactor project may get all the national
headlines, but South Carolina Electric & Gas' V.C. Summer reactor project is
now giving the well-publicized nuclear debacle in Georgia a run for its money.
The growing list of problems at V.C. Summer include a half billion dollar cost
overrun, pushed-back end dates for finishing the reactor and significant
construction challenges, including with the reactor's critical shield
building. The V.C. Summer and Vogtle projects are proceeding in parallel using
the experimental Westinghouse AP1000 design.
Tom Clements, Friends of the Earth's South Carolina-based nuclear campaigner,
made the following statement about the project: "The mess at the Vogtle
reactor gets all the headlines highlighting the failed nuclear renaissance,
but the V.C. Summer reactor construction project is in every bit as much
trouble. As construction becomes more complex and schedule delays mount, V.C.
Summer is emerging as an epic mistake at least as big as Vogtle. We have
already seen six pay-in-advance rate increases in the state attributed to the
V.C. Summer project, and we estimate it already accounts for a whopping 11
percent of the total utility bill -- the charges in which are only for
financing costs. State regulators refuse to require the nuclear utility to
detail in monthly utility bills how much ratepayer money is being wasted on
the nuclear project. We expect rates to skyrocket when capital costs start
coming into the bill, which will place the utility in a precarious position
with customers. The hidden rip-off of construction work in progress payments
situation in South Carolina, which is the only reason the project is
proceeding, is even worse than in Georgia."
On January 10 of this year, the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff
quietly released its "Review of South Carolina Electric & Gas Company's 2013
3rd Quarter Report on V. C. Summer Units 2 and 3
The AP1000 reactor project was approved by the South Carolina PSC on March 2,
A Friends of the Earth analysis of the recent state review shows:
oA near- half billion dollar ($478 million) cost overrun at the V.C. Summer
reactor construction site: The PSC approved a $278 million cost increase
in November 2012 that is being challenged by the Sierra Club. Though South
Carolina Electric & Gas may try to hold CB&I, the maker of flawed modular
components, liable for a $200 million overrun, it is possible that South
Carolina. Ratepayers will be forced to pay for part of this cost increase.
In spite of these identifiable cost increases, SCE&G claims the cost of
the project has not increased.
oA significant pushback in the delivery date for the new reactor: According
to the state report, "SCE&G's Milestone Schedule reflects a delay in the
Unit 2 substantial completion date from March 15, 2017 to December 15,
2017, and a delay from May 15, 2018 to December 15, 2018 in the Unit 3
substantial completion date." The state found that 16 key milestones for
the new V.C. Summer reactor have been delayed already by 10 months or
longer. Continuing problems with module construction already have resulted
in major cost overruns and could mean overall delays of 18 months or
longer, which must be approved by the South Carolina Public Service
oPotentially serious problems loom with the design and manufacturing of the
shield building, the large vented structure protecting the reactor
containment and on which a passive cooling water tank is perched. The ORS
reports stats that "Because of the production and quality issues
associated with CB&I-LC, fabrication of the Shield Building modules has
been reassigned to Newport News Industries in Virginia. Mobilization and
preparation for production continued at NNI throughout the quarter.
Although fabrication is now underway, no sub‐modules have been delivered
to the site. A detailed schedule for their delivery is not yet available."
The NRC will hold a public meeting on January 22
(http://meetings.nrc.gov/pmns/mtg?do=details&Code=20140042) to discuss the
shield building design.
oSouth Carolina Public Service Authority, Santee Cooper, a 45 percent
partner in the project that is not regulated by the PSC, wants to divest
all or part of its share. The board of Santee Cooper is likely to vote at
the board meeting on January 27 to sell a portion of the project to Duke
The next SCE&G quarterly report is due 45 days after the end of the fourth
quarter 2013. The ORS review will be released about 45 days after that.
Approximately $4.5 billion has already been spent on V.C. Summer to date.
Friends of the Earth fights to create a more healthy and just world. Our
current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate
change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and
products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and
work near them.
SOURCE Friends of the Earth, Washington, D.C. and Columbia, SC.
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.