Summer nuke owners reach new construction agreement with Westinghouse
SCANA and Santee Cooper on Monday announced an interim agreement with Westinghouse Electric that allows construction on the troubled V.C. Summer nuclear plant to proceed for another 45 days.
The last agreement with bankrupt Westinghouse extended work on the nuclear project to June 26; the new agreement runs through Aug. 10, 2017, subject to bankruptcy court approval.
The new agreement gives South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G), the principal subsidiary of SCANA, and co-owner Santee Cooper a transition and evaluation period to assess their options for the project with a goal of reaching a decision in the third quarter.
The V.C. Summer nuclear project, like Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear project in Georgia, were both behind schedule and over budget when Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March, imperiling and complicating the outlook for the projects.
The Summer project is already between $2 billion and $3 billion over budget.
The most recent revelation, reported by The Post & Courier, is that Westinghouse’s detailed construction schedule is missing. That document was the basis of SCANA and Santee Cooper’s cost and timing estimates for regulators, and its absence calls into question presentations from the project owners that the plant could be completed by 2020 at a cost of $14 billion.
“Westinghouse has clearly failed to perform according to our contract for the V.C. Summer project,” Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore told The Post & Courier.
Meanwhile, the Aiken Standard reports that Toshiba, Westinghouse’s corporate parent, is in talks with SCANA and Santee Cooper on possibly taking over operations of the project, according to a footnote in recently filed court documents.
“We are undergoing a thorough analysis and evaluation that includes a broad range of considerations as we work to determine the most prudent path forward for the project,” SCANA spokeswoman Rhonda O'Banion told the paper.
Taking over construction would put SCANA and Santee Cooper in the same boat as Southern Co., which took control of construction last month on the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia, where Westinghouse was also the contractor. That agreement was reportedly contingent on an understanding Westinghouse would press for a similar deal on Summer, so the utilities could share construction resources.
Toshiba has also been caught up in Westinghouse’s woes and is preparing a bankruptcy filing, according to press reports.
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