Nuclear industry darkened by delays, cost overruns at Vogtle & Summer facilities
- The Vogtle nuclear facility in Georgia and V.C. Summer nuclear facility in South Carolina are both some three years behind schedule in construction and each is expected come in billions of dollars over their original budgets. These poor performances are expected to discourage further U.S. investment in nuclear power in the near term, SNL reports.
- The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast of nuclear generation falling by 10,800 MW through 2020 could be understated, according to analysis from Fitch Ratings, because political pressure and higher-than-expected operations and maintenance costs are accelerating plant retirements.
- Longer term hope for nuclear advocates comes from The EPA Clean Power Plan’s assignment of compliance to states that use new nuclear plants and existing facility upgrades that add new capacity. And the Department of Energy last year announced it would accept applications from nuclear developers for $12.5 billion in loan guarantees.
"Failure" in the construction of the two high-profile nuclear plants will likely chill enthusiasm for new nuke plants in the near future, Fitch Ratings said in an analysis last week. Not only that, but operations and maintenance costs could force the retirement of more nuclear plants than expected. EPA regulations and Department of Energy loans, however, could fuel some growth for the sector in the longer term.
Vogtle is co-owned by Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and the Georgia city of Dalton. V.C. Summer is co-owned by SCANA Corp. subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCG&E) and the South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper).
Both Vogtle and V.C. Summer use the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor. Its modular design was supposed to streamline construction and reduce costs but it failed to lower costs or speed installation. Four AP1000 reactors under construction in China are also over budget and behind schedule.
Westinghouse announced early this year the two Vogtle reactors would be delayed a further 18 months and then an April report from the Georgia PSC indicated there would be an additional two to three month delay. SCE&G filed a petition with South Carolina regulators two months ago again revising project completion dates for its two units and adding incremental capital costs of $698 million to the budget.