SCANA’s nuclear update ranges from South Carolina to China

As a developer of new nuclear projects, SCANA (NYSE: SCG) executives found themselves commenting on not only their construction progress but on the status of reactors under construction in Georgia and China.

The bottom line is that work is on schedule and within budget for V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 being built near Jenkinsville, S.C., by SCANA’s South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G), SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh said during a Feb. 21 earnings call.

The two new units remain on track for commercial operation in 2017 and 2018 respectively, SCANA officials said.

“We are beginning on a period of peak construction spending,” Marsh said. The utility plans to avoid new baseload rate requests until this peak period has concluded, Marsh said.

The company’s incremental new nuclear construction work in progress (CWIP) spending is estimated at $757m for 2013. That figure is projected to peak at more than $1bn in both 2014 and 2015 before finally falling to $203m in 2018. (This reflects new nuclear capex from July 1 through June 30).

Significant progress has been made on the switchyard, cooling tower, Unit 2 turbine building and Unit 3 nuclear island at V.C. Summer, company officials said.

The switchyard was substantially completed during the fourth quarter of 2012 and has been energized for testing, said COO Stephen Byrne.

SCANA officials also said they were not concerned about difficulty that Southern (NYSE: SO) recently encountered in shipping a reactor vessel by rail. The reactor vessel was being shipped from Savannah, Ga., to the site near Waynesboro, Ga., where Georgia Power is leading development of Vogtle Units 3 and 4.

The mammoth component apparently “shifted” in the rail car, SCANA officials said. Vendors are now working to modify the rail car to ensure this issue doesn’t occur again, SCANA officials said.

SCANA officials also said the reactor vessel won’t be needed at the V.C. Summer complex until 2014.

Both SCANA and Southern are using Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors at the new nuclear plants. During its latest financial call, Southern officials indicated they were not overly concerned about the shipment issue.

In addition, to SCANA, and Southern, AP 1000 design reactors are also being used at the Sanmen Nuclear Station in China and construction there is ahead of either of the new U.S. plants.

“We congratulate them on their achievements and look forward to reaching the same milestones,” Byrne said.

SCANA’s electric demand growth in South Carolina continues to be influenced by factors such as weather, conservation measures and increasing population growth in the Southeast.

 SCANA’s earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012 were $105m, or basic earnings per share of 79 cents, compared to earnings of $98m, or basic earnings per share of 76 cents, for the fourth quarter of 2011.

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.