SCANA targets 2017 for reactor vessel head replacement

SCANA (NYSE: SCG) is targeting 2017 for replacement of the reactor vessel head at the V.C. Summer 1 nuclear unit in Fairfield County, S.C.

A spokesperson for the corporate parent of South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) said April 30 that SCANA was already planning to make the major capital infrastructure investment prior to the discovery of problems with five “vessel head penetration welds” discovered recently during an outage.

“During V.C. Summer Unit 1’s current refueling and maintenance outage, which started April 4, we inspected the reactor vessel head as planned,” the spokesperson said in an email to GenerationHub.

“After extensive and comprehensive testing, which was independently verified by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), V.C. Summer determined the need to repair five reactor vessel head penetration welds,” the spokesperson said.

“The areas we identified for repair were small and virtually undetectable by the eye. We supplemented our visual inspection of the reactor vessel with robotic inspection techniques and ultrasonic testing,” the spokesperson said.

“Even before these preemptive inspections, our long-range plans included eventual replacement of the reactor vessel head. We ordered a new reactor vessel head before the start of our current outage. Because of the highly specialized production process, reactor vessel heads take years to be produced. We are targeting 2017 to do the replacement,” the SCANA spokesperson said.

SCANA is currently building V.C. Summer units 2 and 3 at the nuclear complex. Unit 2 is currently scheduled to go online in in either the fourth quarter of 2017 or the first quarter of 2018. The utility, however, is currently awaiting a revamped construction schedule from its vendor group, led by Chicago Bridge & Iron (NYSE: CBI).

SCANA is the majority owner in the V.C. Summer nuclear station. Santee Cooper is its minority partner.

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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.