V.C. Summer Expansion Threatened By Westinghouse Bankruptcy

The Westinghouse Electric Company bankruptcy filing could pull the plug on the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant expansion project that is currently 34 percent completed, SCANA Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kevin Marsh told the South Carolina Public Services Commission (PSC) on Wednesday.

V.C. Summer The option to cancel the project in the wake of the bankruptcy and Westinghouse parent company Toshiba's ongoing financial struggles would be the last option taken, but it is a possibility, Marsh told the commission.

The earliest the company would know for sure what the fate of the project might be, he said, is the end of April.

Toshiba had pledged an additional $1.7 billion after its subsidiary declared bankruptcy, but the parent company's own financial problems have put that pledge into question. Westinghouse has informed SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) that the two-reactor project requires about $1.5 billion more than previously expected, The State journal reported.

At risk, from the PSC's point of view is more rate hikes and more delays. The project has racked up about $3 billion in cost overruns beyond its original budget and the PSC has allowed for nine rate hikes to fund the project. South Carolina passed a law in 2007 that allows for customers to be billed in advance for nuclear power plant construction. Currently, ratepayers pay an average of $27 per month to fund the V.C. Summer expansion project.

SCE&G agreed last year to cap the rate hikes it would assess for the project, but the bankruptcy filing is expected to force the company and the PSC to revisit that agreement if the project continues.

The project is one of two U.S. expansion projects involving Westinghouse-designed AP-1000 reactors – the first to be built for U.S. consumers. The other project, the Plant Vogtle expansion project in Georgia is also a Westinghouse project, although that project, according to Georgia Power, is about 60 percent completed.

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