#1 cleantech news, reviews, & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today. The future is now.


Nuclear Energy Construction of two nuclear reactors at Jenkinsville, SC (SCE&G)

Published on August 18th, 2014 | by Sandy Dechert

61

V.C. Summer Nuclear Reactor Delays Drop SCE&G Credit Rating To Negative

August 18th, 2014 by  


Two 1,117-MW nuclear power plants being constructed at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Power site in Fairfield County for South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (55%) and state-owned Santee Power (45%) have fallen behind schedule. (Not entirely unexpected, considering the overall track record of the nuclear power industry.) “The delay will put the $10 billion project at V.C. Summer Nuclear Power plant outside the 18-month contingency allowed by state regulators and likely will drive up the costs, but utility officials said they would not know how much until later this year.”

Two nuclear reactor delays at Jenkinsville, SC (SCE&G)

Two nuclear reactor delays at Jenkinsville, SC (SCE&G)

The reactor delays in construction of the $10 billion project caused the Fitch Rating credit desk to downcheck the rating outlook of the power company and its parent, SCG, to “Negative.” This occurred in spite of the attainment of 100 of 146 specific milestones and lower costs (before the delay) due to SCE&G paying millions less to borrow money for the project.

From MarketWatch Businesswire:

The Negative Rating Outlook for SCG and SCE&G reflects the heightened regulatory and financial risk of SCE&G’s nuclear construction program following the announcement of a longer than expected delay in the construction schedule and the uncertain cost impact. With the most recent delay, SCE&G will most likely exceed the cost and 18-month schedule contingency previously approved by the South Carolina Public Service Commission, making full cost recovery less certain.

The construction consortium, Westinghouse Electric Co., LLC, and the Chicago Bridge and Iron Co., N.V. (CBI), has fallen behind in its fabrication and delivery of sub-modules, causing the reactor delays, which are not the first at the site. Originally, the plants were to begin operating in 2016 for unit 2 and 2018 for unit 3. The current schedule for substantial completion is now March 2017 and May 2018.

Later this year, after negotiations with SCE&G management, the consortium will provide a more precise schedule and revised cost estimate and the PSC will rule on its acceptability. At this time, Fitch may reconsider the rating.

Who’s funding the downhill journey? Why, South Carolina power consumers, of course. They have already suffered seven rate hikes for the nuclear project, the latest one approved by regulators in May.





Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."



  • Brian

    Nuclear power is too expensive, has nuclear waste which must be stored for the next 500,000 years, and is dangerous as we have seen from Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and the Fukushima disaster. Offshore wind, solar and geothermal power could power the nation, and wind power alone could provide 7 times the electricity the USA uses so it is completely insane to pursue expensive nuclear power, with it’s safety and nuclear waste problems.

  • Kevin McKinney

    To be fair, you can’t really make a direct comparison between California’s 3 GW renewables and South Carolina’s 0-GW-so-far-but-it’s-coming-soon-honest nuclear. According to the Wikipedia list linked below, SC has a state economy less than 1/10 the size of California’s.

    But that said, SC undoubtedly could add a lot of solar and wind quite quickly with some pretty straight-forward policy changes; it’s one of the least solar-friendly states in the Union. But it does have quite a good solar resource. With prices going the way they are, I suspect ideology will only delay things so long in the Palmetto State.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Why is it not fair?

      South Carolina will end up spending more per kWh produced by going the nuclear route than had they installed solar. It’s got nothing to do with the size of the state’s economy but how they chose to spend the dollars they had.

      The anti-renewable energy South is starting to crumble. I suspect things will be very different five years from now. Money speaks louder than political allegiance in most cases. Look at how the conservative Midwest took up wind once they realized the jobs, land leases and tax revenues created. Look at Texas and Oklahoma. Quite conservative but installing buckets of wind.

      • Kevin McKinney

        I don’t think it makes sense to compare what California *did* add to what South Carolina *could have added* without scaling for the size of the economy, that’s all.

        I profoundly hope that you are correct that “The anti-renewable energy South is starting to crumble,” and would not be surprised if you are. But when SC does (so to speak) ‘see the light’, they still won’t be able to add ~3 GW a year–not any time soon, at least. Solar scales a heckuva lot better than nuclear in the current reality, but it still takes time to build up a state-wide industry.

        It’s a small start, but:

        https://www.sceg.com/about-us/power-generation/solar

        “We are leading South Carolina in reducing coal-fired generation in favor of clean energy. Our investment in solar is an important part of this effort…

        “Solar farms are being added to the SCE&G system over the next few years. Combined, they will produce about 50 megawatts of solar energy….

        “Within five years, by reducing emissions and building renewable and non-carbon emitting facilities, SCE&G will create a balanced energy generation portfolio that will serve our state for decades to come.”

        • Bob_Wallace

          Again, it has nothing to do with the size of the economy.

          Take the billions they are spending on new reactors then call up First Solar and tell them you have money to spend on new solar farms. FS will roll in and have solar on your grid much faster than you’ll get anything out of nuclear. And for a lot less money.

          • Kevin McKinney

            Again, I agree that the choice of solar versus nukes has nothing to do with the size of the economy. However, how much solar (or anything else) you can build in a given time *does.* That’s the aspect I was commenting on, not the nukes vs. solar choice. I don’t know how I can put this any more clearly.

            But to give an example, if South Carolina were to develop its solar industry to the level that California has, I would expect that the yearly installs would be ca. 300 MW–1/10th of the California case. (May the day come soon, I say.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            It feels like this isn’t important, and it probably isn’t. But I’ll beat on this poor dead horse some more. ;o)

            $10 billion project. Approved. Gonna spend $10 billion in order to get some new power on the grid.

            So, you could put out feelers and find a company who will move into the state and start building a couple of nuclear reactors.

            Or you could put out feelers and find one or more companies that want to build a couple of billion dollars worth of solar farms per year.

            Difference, big difference is that power starts flowing from the first round of solar farms which creates revenues. Those revenues pay for the money you borrowed for the $10 billion improvement and interest doesn’t accumulate for the 5 to 10 years of nuclear construction.

            It’s not that South Carolina has to develop its solar industry. Unless you’re thinking they would only use rooftop. Make it large solar farms and there are any number of large construction companies that could jump into that business almost overnight. There’s nothing very involved in building a solar farm. You need a good design and someone who knows how to read plans. No more involved than building a parking garage. Probably simpler.

          • Kevin McKinney

            Right, good points all. (And probably justify the extra ‘beating!’)

            Yes, I do think that rooftop will probably be important in SC (because I suspect individuals will be ahead of the polity–and in fact, I hope our family will be one among that number). But I think you are right that utility-scale could come quicker, since that business is apt to be national-scale or bigger anyway.

          • Henry WA

            Unfortunately it is never as simple as that. The $10 billion has already been spent on the nuclear mistake. Do the politicians now admit their mistake, write off the $10 billion and spend another $10 billion on solar and wind. Probably the smart thing to do. In real life they pretend no mistake was made and instead spend another $5 billion on overruns and then claim that nuclear is great and there is no need/no money left for renewables.
            Same or worse in Australia, they overbuild with coal and gas and then claim “we cant waste these assets”. They then act to stop wind and solar as far as they can.

          • jeffhre

            “Again, I agree that the choice of solar versus nukes has nothing to do with the size of the economy.”

            Huh, but I thought you said, (rubs eyes and says, never mind) 🙂

            How about a comparison closer to home? “Huge North Carolina Solar Project Could “Move the Needle” for Solar’s Possibilities

            It’s the largest solar PV project east of the Mississippi, the largest non-utility solar PV project in the U.S. and when all was said and done, it was cheaper than wind.” http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2014/07/huge-north-carolina-solar-project-could-move-the-needle-for-solars-possibilities

          • Kevin McKinney

            Wow! For what I thought was a fairly throw-away comment, this has sure been picked on. But I wasn’t talking about solar vs. nukes as a function of the size of the economy–though of course, those were the technologies in play in the actual examples under discussion–I was simply pointing out that SC isn’t going to add 3 GW of *anything* in a year, due to scale, and that you should really consider that when comparing the cases in the two states.

            Or, as I put it in my first reply to Bob: “I don’t think it makes sense to compare what California *did* add to what South Carolina *could have added* without scaling for the size of the economy, that’s all.”

            Thanks for the link to the NC project. That state is a current leader in renewables deployment, as a couple of recent CT stories have noted.

  • Bob_Wallace

    There’s been a meeting by the Public Service Commission in Georgia in which the discussion was to close the new Vogtle plants now and eat the losses to date or to go forward and risk even higher losses in the future.

    Do you eat a $5 billion loss or keep going and risk a $15 to $20 billion loss?

    Georgia is vastly oversupplied.

    “Georgia Power’s utilized capacity has fallen to just over 50 percent. (83 percent capacity utilization is the industry’s norm.) The 6 percent additional capacity from Vogtle is simply not needed.”

    http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/24/article/101448/

    Efficiency is eating into demand and rooftop solar will be doing more eating of demand going forward. Cheaper wind is about to be imported from Oklahoma and it was just discovered that by using 96 to 110 meter towers rather than the normal 80 meter towers Georgia has very good wind resources.

    • jeffhre

      “…it was just discovered that by using 96 to 110 meter towers rather than the normal 80 meter towers Georgia has very good wind resources.” This is the type of ongoing research result that leads to lower wind power costs yearly.

    • Mint

      Georgia is 62% coal. I don’t know why they are overspending on nuclear ($14B for two reactors is many times more than AP1000 in China, and cheap labor can’t explain the difference), but once they’re built, oversupply will make coal die first. It’ll be an easy switch, too, since both nuclear and coal are baseload.

      But I agree that this price is crazy.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Were it a free market state (oh, the irony) the new reactors would be stillborn.

      • Kyle Field

        Can’t wait for the day when the US is fully off of coal. I was in Colorado last month and it was crazy watching train cars full of coal rolling down the tracks day in and day out. Put’s a name to the face… and an ugly one at that.

    • Kyle Field

      This is a great point but one that many have trouble wrapping their brains around. Write off and walk away from $5 billion dollars already invested? Bah??? What if the next $5/10/20 billion was diverted to install solar in SC? Problem solved?

      • Bob_Wallace

        You might want to read this paper on the history and future of nuclear energy economics. At least take a look at the history of US nuclear and see how many reactors were started and abandoned for financial reasons.

        http://www.vermontlaw.edu/Documents/Cooper%20Report%20on%20Nuclear%20Economics%20FINAL%5B1%5D.pdf

        Then, problem solved? Georgia apparently has no electricity generation shortage. They are already well overbuilt. Increased efficiency and rooftop solar is going to make that problem even larger.

        Georgia’s electricity is pretty dirty, lots of coal. I’m not sure that Georgia is ready to work with that problem. They are in a part of the country where climate change denial is strongest. But if some are ready to start reducing fossil fuel use then using the “next $5 to whatever billion” on renewables makes tremendous sense.

        Here’s the choice. Stop work on the current reactors and let customers pay for the $5 billion mistake. Or finish the reactors and let customers pay for a $10 to $20 billion mistake.

    • eveee

      Southern Co. looked at all the government incentives and give aways and just drooled. The administration is trying very hard to push nuclear, and it just aint working. With demand as low as it is in that area and solar costs going lower and lower…. I think they would have to consider pulling the plug. They are really going to be hurting when it opens and they find out they are losing money from day one. As time goes on, the pressure to close shop will only increase. More on Summer and Vogtle,

      http://safeenergy.org/2014/07/03/vogtle-costschedule-issues/

      “Just over a week ago we reported that all five reactors now under construction in the U.S. are experiencing delays and cost overruns. At a hearing Tuesday before the Georgia Public Service Commission on construction of Southern Company’s two Vogtle reactors, the Commission’s own experts “reiterated concerns about struggles for the project south of Augusta. Georgia Power customers are already paying for financing of the expansion on their monthly power bills and one expert has said any additional delay could cost the company $2 million a day. Those costs could be picked up by ratepayers.”

      The big news of the day–and news that indicates further delays are likely–was that Southern Company’s Georgia Power division has switched suppliers for some of the very large components of the reactors.”

  • DGW

    Seven rate hikes paid for by SC energy users.
    How’s that nucular workin’ for ya’ then?

  • Kyle Field

    I get it…nuclear sounds terrible…and to tell you the truth, I’m not thrilled about it but we have a reality to face. Yes, Solar is great. Wind is fantastic. Geothermal has potential…but nuclear seems to be one of the cleaner options out there to fill the gap until renewables are scaled up. South Carolina’s energy mix appears to be mostly natural gas (~9MBTU worth), coal (~2MBTU) and Nuclear (~1MBTU) with solar not even showing up on the radar (in the 2011 report I found http://www.energy.sc.gov/files/2011SCEnergyStatisticalHighlights.pdf).
    what’s being said by cheering about the nuclear plant failing, being downgraded etc is that we prefer natural gas and coal fired generation.
    Hmmm…this is a toughie.
    I’m not stoked about Nuclear but it’s important to base real time policy/voting/mindsets on reality (solar is not generating any significant power in SC) vs just cheering about blue sky solutions that may be blocked by regulation, cost, financing or poor weather (low generating capacity = poor payback).

    Go figure out if solar makes sense in SC, start a utility scale generation company and scale that baby up…most else is just noise.

    • jeffhre

      A ten year gap to fill an existing clean energy gap? With delays that will be extended to 2020.

      Making electricity from the sun always appealed to Bruce Monson, an Air Force veteran…“It should be easier to do than this,” said Monson, who eventually took out a loan to pay the cost. “This was a struggle, absolutely a struggle.”

      http://www.thestate.com/2012/10/14/2480345/why-solar-power-rarely-shines.html#storylink=cpy

      In 2013 alone California installed nearly 3GW of solar. SC could offer a little help in so many ways. Instead of stacking the decks and insuring that SCE&G customers have seven rate increases and nothing to show for it until about the year 2020. No one could have known about the low prices solar and wind would command when plans for Sumner were being made in 2007. But there is no excuse for the policies of 2012 – 2014. Since 2007, no new nuclear has been generated by Sumner.

    • jeffhre

      O GW since planning for Sumner started in 2007 is noise – 7 GW of solar since 2007 is a return on investment.

      When Sumner is completed – in 2020? – what would you project the levelized cost of wind and solar will be?

    • SecularAnimist

      Kyle Field wrote: “nuclear seems to be one of the cleaner options out there to fill the gap until renewables are scaled up”.

      You must not have read the article. The whole point is that nuclear power is not scaling up and cannot scale up as rapidly as solar and wind. By the time that nuclear power plants could be built and brought online to “fill the gap”, the gap will no longer exist. As this case shows, it’s actually solar and wind that are already “filling the gap” while new nuclear power plants all over the world are bogged down in massive cost overruns, lengthening delays and safety problems.

      Also, while operating nuclear power plants do not emit CO2, the nuclear fuel cycle as a whole — from uranium mining to spent fuel storage — is certainly NOT “clean”. On the contrary, it is inherently dependent on mining, refining, processing, transporting, managing and ultimately storing indefinitely massive amounts of some of the most toxic and dangerous substances known to man.

      • Kyle Field

        The current disaster we are facing is not related to the responsible handing of nuclear waste…but climate change. To avert that global disaster, less damaging alternatives should be considered. I’m not proposing nuclear as the long term, end all be all solution, but a stop gap. Still terrible? yes, for sure. Expensive as all hell? yup. Better than global temps rising to the point where the planet can no longer support human life? I think so.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’m simply not understanding your “stop gap” thinking when it comes to nuclear. Continuing to use our (safe) existing reactors, I get that. But building new ones?

          Take the $10 billion/whatever it takes to bring a new reactor on line after 5 to 10 years. Use it for wind and solar. Get more electricity per dollar spent. Get the electricity flowing 5x to 10x faster.

          More electricity produced per dollar = more fossil fuel generation avoided.

          Clean electricity on line much sooner = years of lower fossil fuel use.

          • Leonard Suschena

            Bob, I’m not sure, but when I flip the switch, I want the lights on and the furnace and conditioning too. So, lets say the sun has gone down and you want to do a little reading, or not stub you toe when your looking for that book, so you hit the old light switch, and oh crap, nothing. Why, because the sun doesn’t shine at night and solar panels are useless at night, no matter how many tens of thousands you install. No sun, no solar, that’s what solar means, “of the sun”. Now, a math question for you to figure out. Determine how many square miles of SC you have to clear cut in order to install enough solar panels to match the generating capacity of one 1157 MW plant being built at VC Summer. Now since nuclear has a 97% capacity factor and solar’s is 25% figure out how many more has to be clear cut to account for storage to be able to have power at night.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Leonard, I’ve been “off the grid” for over 25 years with solar, batteries and some generator time. During the last 20 years I have exactly zero seconds of no electricity. (I screwed up once about 21 years ago and was out for an hour or so.)

            “Determine how many square miles of SC you have to clear cut in order to install enough solar panels to match the generating capacity of one 1157 MW plant being”

            Answer: Zero.

            To replace one 1157 MW reactor operating at about 90% CD (US average is under 90%) you’d need roughly 12.25 square miles of panels. That’s existing rooftop and parking lot area, easily.

            ” how many more has to be clear cut to account for storage to be able to have power at night.”

            Answer: Zero.

            First, no reasonable person talks about a 100% solar (or 100% wind) grid. That’s something one hears only from fossil fuel and nuclear advocates.

            Second, we wouldn’t clear cut jack for storage. We’d convert existing dams and use abandoned rock quarries and mines for pump-up hydro. We’d use low value industrial land to park containers of batteries, including flow batteries. That’s what we are doing right now.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “until renewables scale up”

      Vogtle 3 is an 1117 MW generator. That’s about roughly 1 GW when adjusted for a 90% CF.

      California added 2,746 MW of solar in 2013. At a 20% CF that’s over half a GW (0.55) in a single year.

      Site work for Vogtle 3 began in 2012, the first concrete poured in 2013. We’re guessing that the reactor might come on line in December of 2018. That’s 6-7 years (and counting). At California’s solar installation rate of half a gig a year we could put 3+x as much new power on the grid.

      At a fraction of the cost.

      • jeffhre

        “California added 2,746 MW of solar in 2013. At a 20% CF that’s over half a GW (0.55) in a single year.” I believe, just IMO, that small commercial and residential are very much under-counted in this yearly total.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I’m not convinced the numbers are far off. There’s a paper trail created by the subsidy process. The only systems not counted should be the ones in which people didn’t bother applying for the federal 30% subsidy and state subsidies.

          • jeffhre

            Oops, thanks for reminding me, I have to file and get my refund!

      • Kyle Field

        Good point. I’m not sure how those numbers scale in terms of california vs SC solar production capacity, let alone based on sheer real estate, but it should still be significant relative to their similarly scaled down population and energy demand.

      • Leonard Suschena

        Bob, you can install all the solar you want, but what are you going to do at night? Solar, “of the sun” doesnt generate a single watt at night!!! You can cover the entire state of CA in solar panels, but when the sun goes down, you have nothing, zilch, nada, kaput!

        • Bob_Wallace

          Leonard, slow down and read the replies you’ve received.

          You’re in danger of being viewed as a buffoon.

    • globi

      Bavaria is significantly less sun than SC and bumped up its photovoltaics share to over 10% in about 5 years.

      On the other hand you simply won’t build a bunch of nuclear power plants in just 5 years which will cover 10% of SC electricity needs.

    • RobS

      Nuclear, which takes a minimum of 10 years from concept to Kwh is going to “fill the gap” until solar, which takes 1-2 years (<6 months for residential) from concept to Kwhs, can be built out?

      • Kyle Field

        My point was more along the lines of capacity…a single nuclear plant brings up capacity in the GW scale whereas even HUGE solar installations are “only” in the 100s of MWs.
        Looking at residential solar and we are faced not only with legislative challenges, but the challenge of financing and individual decisions from millions of home owners.
        I’m all about solar…love it and can’t get enough.

        • RobS

          Yeh I guess when you consider total capacity a nuclear plant dwarfs solar, which is why we have seen 1.19 GW of utility solar has been added to the grid between January and June this year whilst 0 GW of nuclear has been added. Doesn’t matter what factor you use, speed to rollout, capacity added, cost or capacity in the pipeline, solar dwarfs nuclear on all of them.

    • Leonard Suschena

      “Yes, Solar is great. Wind is fantastic. Geothermal has potential…but nuclear seems to be one of the cleaner options out there to fill the gap until renewables are scaled up.”
      There is no geothermal in SC. Renewable “scale up”? Now think about that. Solar has excallated 300 % in the last couple years, yet it, and all other renewables, generate less than 3% of the total electricity in the US. Nuclear generates 19%. When completed, VC Summer will be 1/3 of SCE&G capacity, Coal and gas will also be the other 2/3s. I don’t know about you, but whan I flip the switch I expect the lights to go on, I expect the furnace and air conditioning to also start when the thermostat says so. Solar has no reliability, nuclear is on line 97% of the time nationally. Solar is on line 26% of the time. Solar can never have the capacity factor nuclear has, simpy because, it gets dark when the sun goes down.
      Each new unit will generate 1157 megawatts, 24/7/365 with a 95% capacity factor. Replace any one of these units with wind, 1.157 trilion watts, wind turbines have a capacity of 2 MW, how many turbines does that take? Where are you going to put them?
      Solar panels might be 1000 watts capacity, how many panels is that? Panels are 4×8 square feet, 32 square feet/panel, times how many panels, is many billion square feet of SC do you have to cover solar panels? You’d turn SC intoi a desert because you would haver to clear cut most of the State to insalll them.
      Need a little reality check. Sure they put 3GW in Calif, Calif has a lot of desert areas. Try installing a solar farm at Lake Tahoe.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Leonard, you’ve got a bucket of bad information that you’re hauling around.

        US reactor capacity factor (CF) has averaged just under 90% since 2006. And that’s achieved only by not counting reactors that are down long term for repair. Otherwise CF is about 80%.

        You are very clueless when it comes to calculating solar area. Let me help you out. If we were to replace the 2,000 MW of new capacity with solar (which we wouldn’t, we’d use a mix of renewables) then here’s how we would go about calculating…

        SC has an 4.5 average solar hours per day. That’s a 18.75% CF.

        To get 2,000 MW (2,000,000 kW) with an 18.75% CF we’d need 10,666,667 1 kWh panels.

        10,666,667 1 kW Panels at 64 sq.ft. each would cover 682,666,667 square feet.

        That’s 24.5 square miles.

        South Carolina has 32,020.41 square miles.

        0.076% of South Carolina.

  • jeffhre

    What clean sources of power will your utility company ramp up?

    2013 California installed nearly 3 GW of solar. In 2013 VC Sumner slogged it’s way through year 5. For year 6 it’s on it’s way to a recent, delay driven, cost overrun of nearly $500 million. Resulting in a credit rating drop for SCE&G, and completion scheduled for 2018 – after 7 customer rate hikes were instituted for funding the project. Literally an ocean of contrasts.

    One year and 3 GW of power.

    v six years of citizen protests, construction cost escalations, credit rating downgrades and a $500 million delay – with no possible power until 2017.

  • Matt

    Long build time and very dependent interest rates, and therefore your rating. They made a lot of noise when their cost came down, because the great resession lower interest rates.
    Another reason why wind, which starting comes on line 1 turbine at a time and starts making money much sooner has a leg up.

    • jeffhre

      There is a risk here that with continued annual cost decreases in wind and solar (5% and 15% respectively), that with any further cost over runs, Sumner may not be viable with respect to market rates by 2020. And with more delays, Sumner’s unit three may not be online until 2021. If testing, approvals and final commissioning remains on track. That may be one of the added risk elements which led to SCE&G’s credit downgrade.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Citigroup puts the new Vogtle LCOE at 11 cents, assuming no more cost and timeline overruns.

        With wind under 5 cents and solar likely to be at or below 5 cents by 2020 there’s no way these reactors could survive in the market.

        Thing is, these are “regulated” utilities so consumers can be forced to pay whatever it costs to cover the price of this higher supply. Market forces do not operate in South Carolina and Georgia when it comes to electricity.

        • Jouni Valkonen

          Indeed. As Nuclear is archetypical baseload power with high and steady load factor and low variable costs, it is depended on high peak demand electricity prices when the profits are made. Now as wind and especially solar are shaving the peak demand electricity prices, Nuclear loses its profitability and capital costs are left for the investors.

          Those nukes that are now under construction or planned will be economic disasters if Government is not starting to subsidize them like in UK.

          • eveee

            At Vogtle the government got it the game with a 6.5 billion loan and loan guarantees and a 2.3c/kwhr PTC. Despite this, the plant may still be a losing proposition when it opens. Thus, the moment of truth happens when it comes to the government keeping the intravenous going. When the government stops, the party is over. In truth, its a monster boondoggle.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve read (one place, no confirmation) that the first federal loan was at zero interest while they got their loan guarantee in place.

            As well the state government stepped in a few years ago and let the utility to start overcharging electricity customers with the “seized” money used for reactor construction.

          • jeffhre

            Why hand the costs off to investors when you have rate payers? A dime a month for the next thirty years ought to do the trick.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Just read in the last couple of days that a single day’s delay at one of the Georgia and South Carolina reactor builds costs $2 million.

      http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2014-06-23/story/delays-could-grow-plant-vogtle-nuclear-plant-and-cause-price-rise-2

  • heinbloed

    7 increases in electricity prices and nothing yet. Well,a downgrading.
    Isn’t Westinghouse lucky that Toshiba has bought them?

  • Will E

    with the rise of Solar Power everywhere global and in the USA for all, the nuke will run out of customers in not far away future. Solar is now that cheap safe and easy to install that
    Nuclear Reactors are not competitive anymore. May be shut down on opening day.
    to save more money wasted.

    • Leonard Suschena

      Yes, solar is on the rise, but even with tripling of solar generating capacity, it along with all other renewable sources, account for less than 3% of the total power generation in the USA. Nuclear about 19%, coal and gas the rest. Each of these units will generate 1157MW electric. Thats 1.157 trillion watts per unit. Do the math can tell me how many square miles of South Carolina you have cover with solar panels to account for even one of these units, covering 1/2 the state with panels won’t be enough. 2 questions, then, Where are you going to put them and who will let you? Solar is a pipe dream for several more decades. And, with coal plants being forced to shutdown, where is your power going to come from?

      • Bob_Wallace

        Leonard, you seem to not have the mathematical skills necessary to calculate land (rooftop) needs for solar. It takes stuff like adding and multiplying. And looking up facts.

        And here’s a couple of free clues.

        1) Solar and wind accounted for more than 5.4% of all US electricity in the first five months of 2014.

        89,668 of 1,652,773 thousand MWh.

        2) Solar is ramping up faster than nuclear did when it first appeared on the scene.

        BTW, nuclear plateaued out because it kept getting more expensive. Solar is already at about half the price of nuclear and falling.

        • Leonard Suschena

          These charts are apples and oranges. For nuclear it’s precent of total generation, your solar chart is increase in MW. To be realistic, need to compare MW to MW. Here is the EIA site data. Yes solar gas increased, but isn’t it odd that from 2003 to 2011 also increased and no new plants have been put on line since 1997. How did that happen?

          http://www.eia.gov/electricity/capacity/

          I’d suggest official reliable sources. The article does mention $300 mil in cost overrun, that’s pretty accurate, but that is in negation with WEC and CB&I. But as I mentioned, is look at reliable sources, like the quarterly Reports filed with SC. In there, the utility states, under oath, the project is approximately $700 mil under budget. Just saying.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, Leonard. The units don’t matter when one is looking at the rate of change. Think about it.

            “Yes solar gas increased, but isn’t it odd that from 2003 to 2011 also increased and no new plants have been put on line since 1997”

            That’s a word salad.

            The last paragraph? It seems to address a topic not opened.

          • Leonard Suschena

            Sorry Bob, been busy building VC Summer. Earlier you mentioned solar is 1/2 price of nuclear and falling. This is based upon what data?

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’re going to have to work harder, Leonard, you’re really falling behind schedule.

            Data?

            Citigroup ran the numbers on Vogtle recently and reported a LCOE of 11 cents. If there are no further cost/timeline overruns. That’s a subsidized price.

            http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/citigroup-says-the-age-of-renewables-has-begun

            Solar has been selling in the US SW for 5 cents. 20 or 25 year PPAs. Those are subsidized prices.

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/big-solar-now-competing-with-wind-energy-on-costs-75962

            Now I can tease the subsidies back out of solar. Solar receives a 2.3c PTC over the first 10 years of production so about 1.15c over a 20 year PPA. That makes unsubsidized solar under 6.5c in sunny parts and extrapolating using regional CFs about 8.5c in less sunny parts of the US.

            I can’t tease out the subsidies for nuclear. The very low interest rates that Vogtle gets is a big factor. I suppose I could work a LCOE and derive that figure. But what I can’t calculate is the value of taxpayer assumed liability and the avoided cost of hundreds of billions of liability insurance.

            It’s pretty clear that solar is now half or less the cost of nuclear. Nuclear, if we built any more, would be more expensive since interest rates are on their way up. And solar prices keep falling….

      • A Real Libertarian

        Each of these units will generate 1157MW electric. Thats 1.157 trillion watts per unit.

        Billion.

        Giga = Billion.

        • Leonard Suschena

          Oops, yep your right.

Back to Top ↑