So your reactors are kaput. Now what?

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There’s a big mess in Jenkinsville to unbuild


The announcement earlier this week that SCE&G and state-owned utility Santee Cooper were pulling the plug on construction of two nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville has left questions that keep multiplying.

In the run-up to the decision, one factor driving it was that the partly-completed, multi-billion-dollar project would provide more power than electricity consumers in South Carolina were likely to want.

Canceling the project, though, could lead to a shortfall.

SCE&G says it expects to make it up by building a new gas-powered plant. “At the appropriate time, we will inform the Public Service Commission of our plans to meet that need through a natural gas generation strategy.”

If the past is any guide, and there’s no change in the ground rules, it may seek to pass the cost of that, too, onto its ratepayers.

Yesterday, Santee Cooper confirmed that it will still pursue a rate increase for its residential electricity customers to cover more of its costs for the failed project, which originally was supposed to be providing power by now.

Today, Mollie Gore, Santee Cooper’s corporate communications manager, said in response to questions by email, “We don’t anticipate needing new generation for several years.”

No one wanted a reactor

Various news accounts in the latter part of the project’s nine-year life have stated that Santee Cooper tried to sell some of its stake in the project. Gore confirmed that today, stating, “Several years ago we engaged in discussions with other utilities about selling a portion of our capacity, as it became clear that the recession would have a major impact on our long-term load forecast. The discussions did not advance to sales.”

Once Santee Cooper had soured on the project, SCE&G’s parent company, SCANA, tried to find a new partner, the Charlotte Business Journal reports, “but it found no takers.”

That leaves one enormous construction site filled with partially-built reactors and materials that may never again have a value approaching their cost.

Unbuilding it could create still more significant costs. SCE&G is hoping it might be able to sell some of the site’s components to foreign companies, according to the Business Journal.

Gore said “Decisions about the site are still to be made. The [Santee Cooper] board authorized protecting and preserving it while options are evaluated, and costs for that are being finalized.”

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  • Lyn Wilson

    Convert it into nuclear waste storage areas, then move the junk from Savannah River site to Jenkinsville. Recoup the rate increases charged to customers over the years by selling storage space to other nuclear waste producers. With no Department of Energy or EPA, SCANA can make (another) fortune off the backs of poor stupid South Carolinians.

  • Philip Branton

    “So Your Reactors Are Kaput. Now What?…”

    First, the NSA should be informed so that the implications to national security can be reviewed and informational notifications can be historically reviewed and inspected. Use the same methods to track worldwide terrorists on tracking the historical financial transactions and data for forensic audit.
    Second, have the Department of Energy take over all aspects of the project and replace all board members and legal administration officials with SCANA and Santee and SCE&G and SC DHEC.
    Third, offer financial rewards to a Consortium made up of Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Anita Zucker for financing the completion of this project with future profits to be structured in a transparent oversight trust that will be used to educate high school and college accounting and business students on ethical corporate stewardship and taxpayer informational awareness…..

    I could go on……..