Report: Delays on Summer nuke expansion timeline raised costs, 2nd study says
- South Carolina's The State Newspaper last week revealed the existence of a second "undisclosed report" assessing the failed VC Summer nuclear expansion, adding to a growing body of evidence suggesting that project officials knew of problems long before they alerted state officials.
- The 2016 audit, completed by Fluor Corp., concluded the project timeline was too ambitious and costs were skyrocketing due to delays in acquiring equipment and well-trained manpower.
- Those concerns were also reflected in a 2015 report by Bechtel, which was reviewed by utilities in 2016 but only shared with state officials in September. It now appears warnings included in a 2015 draft of that report were removed from the final version.
It looks increasingly like state officials were kept out of the loop as utility officials pondered what to do with a pair of reports outlining major difficulties at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant. Over the summer, Santee Cooper and SCANA Corp., which owns SCE&G, determined to scrap the Summer expansion. Details of project difficulties have subsequently been come to light.
The most recent revelations from The State focus on a previously-unknown Fluor report that outlined project delays and escalating costs. The newspaper confirmed that neither state regulators nor lawmakers previously knew of its existence.
Another study is similarly problematic.
A draft version of a $1 million audit on the status of the troubled project done by Bechtel and dated Nov. 9, 2015, said, “an assessment of the project schedule was also performed.” The final version of the Bechtel audit, dated Feb. 5, 2016, says “a specific assessment of the project schedule is not included in this report.”
That assessment warned the project would not be finished in time to meet the 2020 deadline to qualify for $2 billion in federal tax credits.
“This is a cover-up,” Rep. Russell Ott (D), who helped lead a special House committee that investigated the nuclear project, told The Post and Courier. “This is deception at its core. The bottom line is they lied to everyone and they did it intentionally.”
In July, the board of Santee Cooper voted unanimously to halt construction, citing the potential for costs to reach over $25 billion. SCE&G, which owns the remaining 55% of the project, subsequently filed plans with regulators to cease construction as well.
The reports indicate the utilities continued to tout their planned reactors as cost-effective generation options for customers months after discovering they were not.
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