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Westinghouse committed to finish Summer new nuclear project

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South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper said Tuesday they have received indications from Westinghouse Electric Company and its parent, Toshiba Corp., that they are committed to completing two reactor units under construction at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville.

In addition, Westinghouse provided SCE&G with revised in-service dates of the units of April 2020 and December 2020 for Units 2 and 3, respectively, SCE&G said in a press release.

The new schedule puts completion of the new units inside the 18-month contingency period provided under state law and would enable both units to qualify, under current law, for the federal production tax credits, SCE&G said.

SCE&G, principal subsidiary of Cayce-based energy provider SCANA Corp., had previously announced the first of the new units was to be completed by Aug. 31, 2019, and second around Aug. 31, 2020 – more than two years behind the original schedule approved by state regulators in 2009.

SCE&G received the committed after Toshiba announced earlier in the day plans to write off $6.3 billion in business because of massive losses related to its nuclear business, primarily the construction of new plants in China and the United States.

Toshiba had announced just after Christmas that it would have to write off losses incurred from Westinghouse’s million acquisition of CB&I Stone & Webster, which had been the contractor on the V.C. Summer project and Georgia Power’s reactor project near Waynesboro, Ga.

Toshiba blamed its losses largely on Westinghouse’s failure to account for potential liabilities associated with the acquisition of CB&I Stone Webster. Toshiba said that its lawyers were trying to determine if Westinghouse senior managers had exerted “inappropriate pressure” on other employees who were reviewing the deal to buy CB&I Stone Webster, the New York Times reported.

SCE&G said will continue to monitor Westinghouse’s ability to stick to the new schedule, as well as the financial condition of the company and its parent.

Meanwhile, Santee Cooper said it a statement that it is reviewing information released Tuesday by Toshiba, and the state-operated utility’s management remains in regular contact with Westinghouse.

“We expect Westinghouse and Toshiba will continue to support our contract and complete Summer units 2 and 3 in accordance with the fixed-price option we executed last year,” the statement said. 

SCANA executives plan to comment during Thursday’s 2016 earnings call on how Toshiba financial losses might impact the new nuclear project.

Besides construction delays, the V.C. Summer project has been hit with cost overruns.

Last year, officials reported that the total bill had climbed to $13.9 billion from initial projection of $11.4 billion (in current dollars).

In a press release, Toshiba signaled that it was dropping out of the business of building new nuclear plants and focusing its efforts on making parts for reactors, maintaining and decommissioning existing facilities, and continuing to manufacture nuclear fuel.

Westinghouse operates a nuclear fuel facility in Lower Richland County.

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