Lexington County Chronicle
March 9, 2017
By Jerry Bellune
S.C. Electric & Gas’s nuclear building costs have reached $13.878 billion.
That’s up $2.465 billion in eight years from the original $11.413 billion estimate for two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County.
The Cayce-based company says power from the two will save customers $4 billion over the reactors’ life.
“This figure was affirmed in early 2016 by an independent accounting firm hired by the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff,” Eric Boomhower of SCE&G said.
But critics say annual rate increases over the last eight years have already cost customers $1.4 billion and over half of the 30-year promised savings is gone.
That’s an average of $2,000 in rates for each of SCE&G’s 700,000 customers.
More worrisome, critics say, is what the customers will get if reactor supplier Westinghouse and its Japanese owners, Toshiba, don’t finish the work.
Toshiba’s CEO resigned after saying publicly that it has lost billions on this project and one in Georgia.
Frank Knapp of the Stop the Blank Check Coalition said he feels confident the project will be finished.
“Toshiba, Westinghouse and SCE&G have good reasons to finish the construction,” he said. “The settlement entered into with SCE&G last year protects the ratepayers from additional constructions costs.”
Kevin Marsh, the CEO of SCANA which owns SCE&G, has told investors and analysts that SCANA is not advocating the “nuclear option” — abandoning building the reactors.
“We’re not saying we’re at that point,” Marsh said. “But it is one of those items that is on the list if you go through the evaluation, should Westinghouse decide to exit the project.”
SCE&G’s total share of the project was $6.313 billion, Boomhower said.
Its partner in the project, state-owned Santee Cooper, originally approved about $5.1 billion for its share.
SCE&G, with 60% of the project, has revised its costs to $7.678 billion.
Santee Cooper with 40% revised its to $6.2 billion.