Georgia Power has released the Fourth Quarter 2016 “Vogtle Timeline” video, detailing progress at the site where two new AP1000 nuclear units are being constructed. This video is just under ten minutes and is a solid addition to this well-received documentary series.
Now, it must be said that this video doesn’t appear in a vacuum; the present financial crisis of Westinghouse parent Toshiba cannot be ignored, even with the progress seen in this video. We must remember that these plants are massive commitments, and we must remember that many nuclear projects in the United States have gone through what appeared at the time to be project-ending troubles only to be completed. At stake are the two units seen in the video – the two AP1000 units being built at Plant Vogtle, owned by Georgia Power (a subsidiary of Southern Company) and the two AP1000 units being built at V. C. Summer, which is majority owned by SCANA.
According to reporting by Bloomberg, Toshiba has specifically restated its commitment to completing the units being built at the V. C. Summer plant site; SCANA, the plant owner, has obtained a letter of credit from Toshiba with a value of $100 million and obtained intellectual property rights to the design of the AP1000 as coverage. Southern Company, who owns the Vogtle plant site has letters of credit for a much larger $920 million.
Southern Company did secure loan guarantees for the Vogtle plant project (which SCANA did not) although it should be noted that these loan guarantees protect the banks, or lenders – not the owner or vendors or contractors. As such, these have no play in the story as yet.
What appears to have changed now is the substantial completion dates for the AP1000 units. SCANA, specifically, has reported new completion dates for the two V. C. Summer units as April 2020 and December 2020; no doubt this has happened as the new construction contractor, Fluor, assesses the situation and attempts to discover where troubles lie.
Will Davis is Communications Director and board member for the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. He is a consultant to the Global America Business Institute, a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and he writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is also a consultant and writer for the American Nuclear Society, and serves on the ANS Communications Committee and on the Book Publishing Committee. He is a former U.S. Navy reactor operator and served on SSBN-641, USS Simon Bolivar.