Construction Delayed at V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant

Steve Byrne, chief operating officer for South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G), provided an update on the company’s new nuclear construction project at the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station during a conference call held on Aug. 11.

On the call, Byrne disclosed that the construction consortium informed SCE&G this month that the substantial completion of Unit 2 will be delayed until late 2018 or the first half of 2019. Unit 3 is expected to reach substantial completion 12 months later.

“Substantial completion” is the contractual term used to indicate that progress on the plant’s construction is sufficiently complete that the owner can occupy or use the facility for its intended purpose. In other words, the consortium is expected to have completed the start-up testing phase and will turn over an operating plant to SCE&G at that time.

“We have completed 100 of the 146 construction milestones associated with the project. However, from the preliminary information received, the completion dates for a number of the remaining 46 construction milestones are now expected to extend beyond the 18-month schedule contingency allowed by the Public Service Commission of South Carolina,” said Byrne.

Modules being supplied from Chicago Bridge & Iron’s Lake Charles, Louisiana, facility are said to be causing the delays. The consortium has moved fabrication of some sub-modules to other locations and is said to be “de-scoping” the Lake Charles facility. The changes will result in modules being delivered from Oregon, Virginia, and even Japan, in some cases.

But in the meantime, Lake Charles is still responsible for a module called the CaO-1, which is a very large structural module that goes inside the containment vessel. It will form the cubicles for components such as the steam generators, reactor vessel, refueling cavity, and pressurizer. It is a big module that takes up a lot of the internal area of the containment vessel itself.

Byrne said that while setting of CaO-1 is not a Base Load Review Act milestone, it is constraining completion of other items that are milestones, such as setting of the CaO-3 module—a large water tank that goes inside the containment vessel. Even though CaO-3 may be constructed and ready, its placement cannot be completed.

“The next step for us is to have our team review the schedule information, to validate assumptions, and work with the consortium to reconcile any differences. After that, we will start the negotiation process on cost and entitlement. Our goal is to conclude this process by the end of the year,” Byrne said.

Byrne stressed that the information is preliminary and that the range of dates does not reflect all possible mitigation efforts. He said that the company has not received any cost estimates for the delays and that it hasn’t accepted the new timeline yet.

For an overview of the project, see “V.C. Summer Nuclear Station Construction Update.”

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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