South Carolina companies scrap $14 billion nuclear project

Two companies developing a nuclear plant in South Carolina announced Monday they would end construction of the $14 billion project.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G) and state-run Santee Cooper both said Monday they would suspend their plan to build two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer power plant northwest of Columbia.

The companies cited cost overruns and construction delays, as well as the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.

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The Santee Cooper board of directors voted unanimously on Monday morning to pull out of the project. In a statement, the company said the decision would save customers $7 billion in construction fees, which have already cost $4.7 billion.

SCE&G later announce that it, too, would cease work on the power plant.

The two companies applied to build the new units in 2008. Since then, however, energy demand has slowed, natural gas prices have fallen and the cost of the new units increased.

Westinghouse’s bankruptcy last year only exacerbated the problems facing the project. Both developers conducted studies to determine the bankruptcy’s impact on their plans, and Santee Cooper concluded it would significantly raise costs and delay the project’s opening until at least 2024.

The companies said they would use payments from Westinghouse parent company Toshiba to offset potentially higher rates for customers.