US Nuclear Comeback Stalls as Two Reactors Are Abandoned

South Carolina utilities said on Monday they are abandoning two unfinished reactors that were once hailed as the start of a U.S. nuclear power renaissance before they were dogged by billions of dollars in cost overruns.

The reactors were proposed a decade ago when U.S. policymakers expected more than a dozen new nuclear power plants to provide carbon-free electricity. In the years since, however, a shale revolution unleashed a glut of cheaper natural gas, the Fukushima accident in Japan raised fresh safety concerns and the Trump administration is now unwinding steps aimed at countering climate change.

A unit of SCANA Corp and state-owned Santee Cooper said on Monday they would abandon the twin-reactor project known as V.C. Summer. It is less than 40 percent complete, and more than $9 billion had been spent on construction.

“We arrived at this very difficult but necessary decision following months of evaluating the project from all perspectives to determine the most prudent path forward,” said SCANA Chief Executive Officer Kevin Marsh in a statement.

The project was expected to begin producing power last year but has been plagued by construction problems, disputes with regulators and poor quality work.

The utilities blamed the bankruptcy of project’s contractor, Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse Electric Co, which said in March it could not afford to finish the fixed-price contract for V.C. Summer or a similar project in Georgia known as Vogtle.

A presentation to the Santee Cooper board showed that in the wake of Westinghouse’s bankruptcy the project would likely not be completed before 2023 and would go 75 percent over the initial budget, to as much as $24 billion.

Halting V.C. Summer increases the likelihood Southern Co will abandon the Vogtle project, adding to a long list of nuclear power plants canceled after construction began.

Full story

via The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

August 1, 2017 at 12:56AM

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