VC Summer Jan 31 2018 IMG_3691.jpg (copy) (copy)

The abandoned expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in late January. A previously undisclosed report found that the nuclear project's owners could squeeze $861 million out of the unfinished reactors by salvaging their equipment. High Flyer/Provided

Santee Cooper’s board should sell what it can of the $860 million in unused reactor components at the V.C. Summer site, then shut it down for good. The proceeds should be used to benefit ratepayers for the failed nuclear project.

The state-run utility is sitting on a virtual gold mine in Westinghouse AP1000 reactor parts, but the market for the stuff is extremely limited. Luckily, Georgia’s Southern Co. is forging ahead with the construction of two identical reactors near Augusta, wisely or not. And if Santee Cooper can strike a deal with Southern Co., it stands to recoup some of its losses tied to the failed V.C. Summer project. And Southern Co. could cut its costs substantially for completing its reactors.

But is that realistic? “We’re trying to get those answers,” Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore said Thursday, adding that she wasn’t privy to any negotiations with Southern Co.

Santee Cooper has agreed to preserve the site and reactor parts through July and would need to approve any extension before then. Its board meets to discuss its options today.

Ms. Gore stressed it was “very important to take time to make good decisions.” Indeed, time is a crucial element in all the negotiations involving the failed nuclear project. But unless Santee Cooper can agree to a deal with Southern Co. in the near future, the costs of preserving multimillion-dollar components and maintaining the site — about $19 million per year — can be expected to soon outweigh any benefits.

There’s virtually no hope of the V.C. Summer project being revived, and it’s even possible that Georgia’s two reactors won’t be completed either. There’s no other viable market for the unused components.

China has largely completed four AP1000 reactors, but none has been started nearly four years after the first unit was scheduled to go online. Saudi Arabia is reported to be considering the AP1000 design.

Santee Cooper’s former nuclear partner, SCE&G, is in the process of turning over its V.C. Summer assets to the state-run utility, clearing the way for a possible sale of parts to Southern Co. And apparently, there is interest in acquiring some of the multimillion-dollar components. SCE&G started negotiations with Georgia Power for the sale of some parts as early as last year before Southern Co. took control of the over-budget, behind-schedule Vogtle project.

Take what you can get. The opportunity won’t come again.