Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Friends of the Earth Opposing New Nuke In South Carolina

The Center supports construction of new nuclear power plants and supports the plans by South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCEG) to construct two new reactors. Unfortunately, our colleagues at Friends of the Earth (FOE) did not get the memo. Their counsel is asking the S.C. Supreme Court to require more study before the $9.8 billion project moves forward. SCEG wants to build two new 1,117-megawatt reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, left, near Jenkinsville, S.C. with a partner, the state-owned Santee Cooper utility.

FOE is using the prospect of cost overruns as the basis for their complaint. But the S.C. Public Service Commission is satisfied with their reviews and proceduress in place to keep prevent unnecessarily high rates. At about the same time, justices are scheduled to hear a similar appeal April 6 from the S.C. Energy Users Committee, which claims the commission is allowing the utility to overcharge ratepayers.

The reactors received approval a year ago from the Public Service Commission. But final federal approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a couple of years away. The utility plans to start construction in 2013; prep work, such as road paving, is under way. The first reactor would be turned on in 2016 and the second in 2019. SCE&G recently raised rates a total of $1.90 a month for each user to help pay for the reactors. By 2019, it will phase in additional increases that will boost the average monthly bill by $40.

The reactor project is expected to bring 3,000 to 4,000 jobs to the state during construction at a time when jobless levels are breaking records. The project would add 800 to 1,000 permanent jobs once the reactors are operating. South Carolina currently gets about half of its electricity from nuclear power plants. ( The State, Columbia, SC, 3/5/10)

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