Sierra Club opposes cost increase for V.C. Summer units

The Sierra Club is seeking a rehearing before the Public Service Commission of South Carolina on state approval of cost increases and deadline extensions for SCANA’s (NYSE: SCG) V.C. Summer 2 and 3 nuclear units.

SCANA said in early November that it is on track to deploy its two Westinghouse AP 1000 reactor units under construction in Jenkinsville, S.C., in 2017 and 2018. SCANA is developing the new nuclear units along with South Carolina’s state-owned utility, Santee Cooper.

In an eight-page petition for rehearing, Sierra Club attorney Robert Guild urges the PSC to revisit its Nov. 15 order that approved $278m in additional costs in the South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) project and an 11-month construction schedule extension.

A SCANA spokesperson said Nov. 28 that the company is reviewing the Sierra Club filing.

In its 90-page order on Nov. 15, the South Carolina PSC also said it is not necessary for SCE&G ratepayers to receive a separate line on their bill identifying the cost of nuclear power construction.

The Sierra Club thinks the utility should be forced to submit a full prudence review of abandoning the nuclear project “in favor of a less costly alternative energy resource plan.”

Among other things, the Sierra Club has argued that natural gas prices have fallen significantly in the last few years. The PSC said, however, this argument was tantamount to a request that SCE&G terminate the nuclear project. SCE&G argued that one of the reasons it elected to build the nuclear units was to balance its portfolio and avoid over-reliance on fossil fuels.

The PSC has also noted that the nuclear project is causing SCE&G to revise some of its earlier electric transmission infrastructure planning.

The Sierra Club asserts that the commission erred in “overlooking and misapprehending the nature and scope of the authority granted it by statute to modify its initial Base Load Review Order.”

The Sierra Club maintains that SCE&G “could, or should have anticipated or avoided the additional capital costs in question” at the time of the initial Base Load Review Act (BLRA) application.

SCE&G has reached a settlement with Shaw Group and Westinghouse Electric regarding certain delays. The settlement was reached without litigation, utility officials have said.

The Sierra Club is targeting PSC Order No. 2012-884.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.