Mon, 2011-10-17

SCE&G, Santee Cooper wait for final approval on reactors

From the Columbia Regional Business Report

Some 3½ years after announcing a $9.8 billion project to build two reactor units at Jenkinsville, South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper have to wait and see if they’ve cleared the final hurdle.

Last week, the utilities went before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking a combined construction and operating license for the two, 1,110-megawatt units that are being built at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

The commission already had discussed many of the generic design issues for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor units that Southern Co. plans to build at its nuclear power plant along the Savannah River.

So, last week’s session focused to a greater extent on site-specific issues, said Gregory Jaczko, commission chairman, including the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The hearing included testimony and exhibits from SCE&G, and the commission’s staff about whether its review of the application has been adequate to support findings necessary to issue a license, according to an NRC press release.

“We believe we have met the requirements to be granted the Combined Construction and Operating License for the two new nuclear units at V.C. Summer Station,” said SCE&G spokesman Eric Boomhower. “We now await the NRC's decision.”

A final decision is expected to be made sometime in December or January, putting the project on track to complete the first reactor sometime in 2016 and the second in 2019.

Some construction – mainly site preparation – is under way.

Investor-owned SCE&G and its state-operated partner, Santee Cooper, announced in March 2008 plans to build two, Westinghouse-designed AP1000 reactor units at the Fairfield County site, some 26 miles northwest of Columbia.

The utilities are splitting the cost of the units with SCE&G’s share totaling 55% of the tab.

The power companies already operate a 966-megawatt reactor unit at V.C. Summer, which began operations in 1984.

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