S.C. Nuclear Reactor Costs Jump by More than $1 Billion

Submitted by NBerning on Thu, 05/21/2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009
Tom Clements (in South Carolina), 803-834-3084 (office), 803-240-7268 (mobile)
Nick Berning (in Washington, D.C.), 202-222-0748
Taxpayers, electricity consumers stuck with skyrocketing bill for two new reactors
Columbia, S.C.-In a dramatic revelation, South Carolina Electric & Gas has filed documents with the South Carolina Public Service Commission that indicate the cost of its two-reactor nuclear project in the state has increased by more than $1 billion.
The utility's filing, which was first made public Monday, shows that the projected "gross construction" cost for its 55 percent share of the project has jumped $561 million, from $6.31 billion to $6.88 billion. The South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) is responsible for the remaining 45 percent of the project, so the overall project cost appears to have increased by more than $1 billion.
"This eye-popping leap in the cost of these reactors could send a shock all the way to Wall Street," said Tom Clements, Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator with Friends of the Earth. "Warnings of massive cost increases and uncertainties appear to be coming true and should lead to reconsideration of the project. These costs will ultimately be borne by South Carolina families who could see their taxes and electric bills skyrocket. When you consider the increasing costs along with the considerable safety risks from the dangerous radioactive waste these reactors would produce, it's clear that investment in conservation and efficiency and in clean energy sources like wind and solar power is the better way to go."
Besides dramatically increasing its cost estimate for the project, the utility indicated in its filing that its schedule for approval of the reactors by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already slipped several months.
Friends of the Earth formally intervened against the utility's application for state-level approval of the project, and a three-week hearing was held in December. The state Public Service Commission ruled in favor of the utility in February, but Friends of the Earth intends to challenge the decision in court.
As the South Carolina reactor project is among the first in the country to move forward in decades, its difficulties could be indicative of problems likely to arise with other nuclear projects, Clements said.
1. SCE&G's "Quarterly Report Ending March 31, 2009 Concerning Construction of V.C. Summer Nuclear Station Units 2 and 3" - dated May 15 and posted on the PSC website on May 18:
SCE&G nuclear reactor docket (2008-196-E) on PSC website: