An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the value of the contract was $9.8 billion. In fact, this figure relates to the final overall cost of the units including financing, transmission upgrades and other work.
The AP1000 consortium of Shaw and Westinghouse has signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract (EPC) for two 1117 MWe AP1000 reactors at the existing VC Summer nuclear power plant site in South Carolina. The final cost of the units is estimated at $9.8 billion.
VC Summer plant (Image: Scana)
South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G), the main subsidiary of Scana Corp, executed the EPC contract on behalf itself and its partner Santee Cooper, a South Carolina state-owned utility. SCE&G and Santee Cooper are joint owners and share operating costs and generating output of the 966 MWe Summer plant, which began commercial operation in 1984. SCE&G is the plant operator. A similar arrangement will apply to the two additional reactors, with SCE&G accounting for 55% of the cost and output and Santee Cooper the remaining 45%.
The ultimate cost of the two new nuclear units is based on today's contract price, plus forecasted inflation, owner's costs (site preparation, etc) and contingencies. The estimated cost for both units upon completion is some $9.8 billion, of which SCE&G's share is about $5.4 billion and Santee Cooper's about $4.4 billion. Each company will also incur costs related to transmission facilities and certain financing costs related to the project.
Kevin Marsh, president of SCE&G, said: "The EPC contract is designed to help us minimize the cost of the new units. A significant portion of the contract price is fixed, or fixed with agreed-upon inflation factors. In addition, the ability to construct the new units on our existing nuclear site will lower the cost and minimize the need for new transmission lines."
He added, "Nuclear generation is also cost-competitive with other forms of generation. Our evaluation included coal, natural gas and other forms of generation, including renewables. Bottom line, nuclear is the right choice for our customers in South Carolina."
SCE&G expects to file an application with the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) and the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) later this week for approval to build the new units.
SCE&G and Santee Cooper submitted an application for a combined construction and operating licence (COL) with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on 31 March. Following an approximate three-to-four-year review process, the NRC could issue the combined licence in 2011. Construction would begin shortly thereafter, subject to PSC approval. The first unit could enter commercial operation by 2016, and the second in 2019.
The EPC contract for Summer units 2 and 3 is the second EPC contract for new nuclear power generation awarded to Westinghouse and Shaw in the past two months. In early April, Georgia Power awarded the companies the first EPC contract for a new nuclear power plant in the USA in more than 30 years. That contract is provide two AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia. Subject to approvals, the two units are slated to enter service alongside Vogtle's two existing reactors in 2016 and 2017.