More Delays, Rising Costs at Nuclear Plant

JENKINSVILLE (June 9, 2016) – South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G), primary owner of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, has filed a petition with the Public Service Commission of S.C. seeking an order approving an updated completion and cost schedule for two new nuclear reactors currently under construction at the Jenkinsville plant.

The requested rescheduling would push the completion date for Unit 2 back to Aug. 31, 2019 and would push Unit 3 back to Aug. 31, 2020. It would also add approximately $807 million to SCE&G’s cost for the project, taking the estimated total cost for SCE&G up to $6.8 billion in 2007 dollars and $7.7 billion with escalation.

When initially approved by the Commission in March 2009, SCE&G’s total estimated cost was expected to be $4.5 billion in 2007 dollars and $6.3 billion with escalation.

SCE&G is a 55 percent owner of the project, with Santee Cooper owning the other 45 percent. Overall estimated cost for the project now stands at around $14 billion.

According to SCE&G’s notice of filing, the new cost schedules “reflect additional costs associated with the Amendment and with certain change orders outside the Amendments. It also reflects additional Owner’s costs principally associated with the Amendment and the change in the guaranteed substantial completion dates, and additional costs to upgrade certain project-based transmission equipment.”

A public hearing on the amendments has been scheduled for Oct. 5-7 at 10:30 a.m. at 101 Executive Center Drive, Saluda Building, Columbia, 29210.

“The request for a cost of overrun of this magnitude will hit consumers hard and the PSC should for once side with residential and business customers and require for SCE&G and its shareholders to bear a major portion of the cost increase as it is in large part due to poor project management,” said Tom Clements, director of Savannah River Site Watch. “The law under which the project is being pursued is not a blank check for endless cost overruns and schedule delays and the company must be held accountable by the PSC for the costly problems and mistakes with the project.”

Clements said SCE&G has also informed the Commission that it would be filing for its annual nuclear cost rate increase, as allowed by the Baseload Review Act. If approved, it would be the ninth such rate increase since the project was approved.

SCE&G customers are already paying 15.5 percent of the bill for advance payment of financing costs for the project, Clements said.

In October 2015, SCE&G signed an Amendment to the Engineering, Procurement and Construction Agreement for the project, which, among other things, granted SCE&G a “fixed price option for the remaining work required under the construction contract,” according to the company’s notice of filing.

“The claim that the cost is fixed is very misleading as it’s clear that there can be future cost increases, all of which would be passed on to the consumer if allowed by the PSC,” Clements said. “The cost of the project is not capped and unless the PSC acts responsibly to curb the cost the sky’s the limit on future cost overruns, so customers should be braced for yet more negative rate impacts.”

Phone calls to SCE&G spokespersons for comment were not returned at press time.

Anyone wishing to testify and present evidence at the hearing should, by July 15, notify, in writing, the Commission at the Office of Regulatory Staff, 1401 Main St., Suite 900, Columbia, S.C. 29201; or K. Chad Burgess, Director and Deputy Counsel, SCANA Corp., 220 Operations Way, Mail Code C222, Cayce, S.C. 29033. Refer to Docket No. 2016-223-E.