Friday, March 30, 2012

The Summer Breeze: V.C. Summer 2 and 3 Approved

VC_SummerSouth Carolina Gas and Electric received its combined construction and operating license (COL) from the NRC for two new reactors at its V.C. Summer facility. Let’s let them tell you about it:

South Carolina Electric & Gas Company, principal subsidiary of SCANA Corporation , and Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, have received approval for combined construction and operating licenses (COLs) from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for two new nuclear units at V. C. Summer Station in Jenkinsville, S.C.

“Receiving approval of our licenses to construct and operate units 2 and 3 at V.C. Summer is a significant event for our company and marks the culmination of an intense review by the NRC,” said Kevin Marsh, chairman and CEO of SCANA. “We look forward to building these two new nuclear units to enhance our ability to meet the energy needs of our customers.”

Lonnie Carter, president and CEO of Santee Cooper, said, “These new nuclear units are a critical component of Santee Cooper’s long-term plan to diversify our generation mix. Access to reliable and low-cost electricity will be key to job creation and economic development opportunities as we continue rebuilding our state’s economy and position South Carolina for the future.”

About 1,000 workers are currently engaged in early-site preparation work at the V.C. Summer construction site. The project will peak at about 3,000 construction craft workers over the course of three to four years. The two units, each with a capacity of 1,117 megawatts, will then add 600 to 800 permanent jobs when they start generating electricity.

Full steam ahead! We’ll look at some of the news and editorial comment about this next week.

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Gov. Jerry Brown of California may or may not be able to navigate the unusual world of his state’s politics – we certainly hope he can – but in his first term (1975-1983) or his second one (beginning last year), he has always been reliably straightforward in describing his thinking, yet he always sounds fantastically mellow for a chief executive. Let’s count it as a virtue, whether one agrees with his policies or not.

So were we were quite interested to see what he had to say about  energy. He didn’t disappoint.

Every Governor usually inherits a mess,” said Brown.  “I’m open, I’m curious, I like to try new things. So if we didn’t try something before [in terms of renewable energy], maybe we can try it now. And stuff we haven’t done, that’s what we gotta do.”

Well, that’s renewables. Fine.

“Just looking at stuff, sh*t happens,” said Brown. “Nuclear’s got issues, but it’s good for greenhouse gases, it’s pretty reliable. Our plant at Diablo Canyon is going at 98 percent reliability, which is a lot higher than it was 30 years ago.”

I’m not sure I’d put exactly like that, but true enough. Diablo Canyon is one of California’s two operating nuclear facilities. San Onofre is the other.

We poked around to see if Brown said more about nuclear – he’s been at the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference this week - but really just snips and bits. Here’s one:

MR. THOMSON: How have your views on nuclear changed? Would you describe yourself as pronuclear now?

GOV. BROWN: Certainly I'm more skeptical of everything, even of my own ideas.

Nuclear's got issues, but it's good for greenhouse gases. It's pretty reliable. So, I'm open to it. I want to make stuff work. I want to deal with stuff. And you've got to try many paths, because a lot of them don't work.

I'd definitely say nuclear is a serious technology that serious people have to think about, and I certainly would include myself in that group.

This is a striking change. Brown ran in 1979 on an explicitly anti-nuclear platform (it was soon after the accident at Three Mile Island).

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I found this comment about fracking to be non-responsive, but pure Brown:

I called up one of our leading oil companies and said, "What's the story on fracking?" This was a week ago. He said, "Well, it's not as bad as the environmentalists say and it's not as safe as the oil companies say." I said, "Well, could I get a briefing on it?" He said, "Yeah." So sometime in the next two or three weeks I'm going to be able to answer your question better.

So, let’s see what he thinks in three weeks.

The view at Summer. This is actually from about a year ago. It’s probably not quite so pit-like now.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brown is very liberal, but has a pragmatic side. Sounds like he's leaning to the latter in terms of nuclear and the GHG issues. That is for the better.

Brian Mays said...

Who knows? Maybe Governor Brown has been hanging out with Stewart Brand. After all, Brand served as Gov. Brown's "special advisor" back in the late seventies.

Let's hope that Brown is keeping that kind of company these days.