Public can weigh in on costs of South Carolina nuclear project

The $10 billion-plus expansion of the V.C. Summer Nucklear Station in Jenkinsville is taking longer and costing more than expected.

The panel that regulates utilities in South Carolina has scheduled a forum for the public to comment on the rising costs associated with a nuclear power plant expansion in the Midlands.

The S.C. Public Service Commission said the hearing will be held July 21 at 6 p.m. in the Saluda Building at 101 Executive Center Drive in Columbia.

Anyone who wants to testify will be required to sign in and will have up to three minutes to make oral presentations. All comments will be given under oath and entered into the official record, the commission said. Regulators will not answer questions at the hearing.

South Carolina Electric & Gas is heading up the expansion of the V.C Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County.

The Cayce-based power company told the commission in March that its portion of the delayed project north of Columbia was rising by $698 million, increasing its share to about $5.2 billion.

SCE&G has initiated a series of rate increases several years ago to pay for its part of the expansion.

The completion dates for the two new reactor units are now June 2019 and June 2020. Previously, the first was to go online by late 2018 or in the first half of 2019, with the second to follow a year later.

SCE&G said $539 million of the cost increase is associated with delays by its construction consortium and other “contested costs.” The SCANA Corp. subsidiary owns 55 percent of the V.C. Summer plant.

Moncks Corner-based Santee Cooper owns the rest, but the state-owned utility plans to sell some of its stake to SCE&G for $500 million. That deal was announced in early 2014.

The sale would boost the SCE&G’s ownership to 60 percent. Santee Cooper’s portion would drop to 40 percent. The deal is expected to be finalized by about 2021.