Completion of two new SC nuclear reactors delayed by a year

The completion of two nuclear reactors being built in Fairfield County could be delayed by up to a year because parts needed will not be manufactured in time, SCANA officials confirmed Thursday.

The Cayce-based energy giant, which owns 55 percent stake of the $10 billion project, expects the delay to boost its costs by $200 million. SCANA, parent company of S.C. Electric & Gas, will have discussions with the consortium building the plants about who is responsible for the increased costs, the utility said.

SCE&G won regulatory approval to raise rates annually for its current customers to help pay for the construction of the nuclear power plants at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville. Just last week, the utility asked for a nearly 3 percent increase to go into effect in October, if approved by the S.C. Public Service Commission, increasing residential bills by $4.32 a month – more than $50 a year – per 1,000 kilowatt hours.

The utility had expected to have the first new nuclear reactor operating within the first three months of 2017, but that could be delayed until the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018, spokeswoman Rhonda O’Banion said. Originally, the reactor was supposed to be up and running in 2016.

The second new plant was set to begin operations in the second quarter of 2018 but will have a similar delay of up to a year because of the manufacturing issues, she said.

The delays were revealed in a conference call with investors this week.

The consortium building the plants – Chicago Bridge & Iron, which recently acquired the Shaw Group, and Westinghouse Co. – is predicting delays in the fabrication and delivery of sub-modules, being built for Jenkinsville at CB&I’s Lake Charles, La., facility.

State owned utility Santee Cooper owns 45 percent of the project but has been trying to sell part of that stake for years with no success.

The delay is within the 18-month construction contingency allowed by the Public Service Commission, O’Banion said.

“With a project of this scale, it is not unusual to have some schedule challenges along the way for a variety of reasons,” SCE&G said in a statement.