Gov. McMaster looking to sell Santee Cooper to salvage V.C. Summer reactors, environmental groups say abandonment will save ratepayers money

The abandonment of reactors 2 and 3 at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station is resulting in about 5,100 lost jobs at the site and billions in sunken costs for the customers of the plant's co-owners, SCE&G and Santee Cooper.
The abandonment of reactors 2 and 3 at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station is resulting in about 5,100 lost jobs at the site and billions in sunken costs for the customers of the plant's co-owners, SCE&G and Santee Cooper.

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF)- South Carolina lawmakers are reeling after the decision to cancel construction of two nuclear reactors in the Palmetto State.

The V.C. Summer Nuclear Station is located in Jenkinsville South Carolina, about 30 miles north of Columbia. The reactors previously under construction there are identical to the ones under construction at Plant Vogtle.

Some lawmakers are trying to salvage the project, including Governor Henry McMaster. McMaster is also calling for hearings to determine what went wrong. Environmental groups say they saw problems years ago.

The abandonment of reactors 2 and 3 at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station is resulting in about 5,100 lost jobs at the site and billions in sunken costs for customers of the plant’s co-owners, SCE&G and Santee Cooper.

State lawmakers are taking notice.

“The question is, how do we go forward?” McMaster said. “They have concluded that it is not economically possible…the next option that would seem to [be] have someone else come in with a clean slate and take it over.”

He says he’s considering selling state-owned utility Santee Cooper, which has a 45 percent stake in the project, to try to resuscitate it. He says he’s been in talks with three of the largest power companies in the country about buying some or all of Santee Cooper. He also expresses concern over the money South Carolinians have paid in their power bills for construction.

Right now about $27 of each SCE&G customers’ monthly bill goes toward construction.

“We have to be sure that we have plenty of power, and we have to be sure that our ratepayers are not giving money for something that’s never going to be built,” he said.

But some say nuclear isn’t the answer to South Carolina’s power needs.

V.C. Summer critics, environmental groups Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, commissioned a study from an economist with the Institute for Energy and the Economy at Vermont Law School.

The author says the company overestimated its energy needs back when it was first considering the plant, which was agreed upon before the Great Recession.

The report, released in July, recommended abandoning the project, stating the economics of the reactors are so bad, that even with $4.5 billion sunk, the remaining costs to complete them would be substantially greater than the costs of alternatives.

 

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