South Carolina Electric & Gas said Wednesday it has pushed back by at least six months the estimated online date for V.C. Summer Unit 2, the first of two planned 1,100-MW nuclear units there, because of contractor delays in fabricating and delivering key elements of the $10 billion-plus project.

SCE&G, a subsidiary of Scana Corp., said it now expects the first new unit to begin commercial operation in either the fourth quarter of 2017 or first quarter of 2018. Most recently, Unit 2 had been expected to come online in March 2017; the original schedule called for it to start up in April 2016.

Stephen Byrne, senior vice president at Scana and chief operating officer and president of generation and transmission at SCE&G, said during an “analysts day” meeting in New York City that a preliminary estimate suggests the delay could add as much as $200 million to the cost of SCE&G’s 55% share of the two-unit Summer expansion project. Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s state-owned utility, owns the remaining 45%.

Byrne did not provide a new in-service-date estimate for Summer Unit 3, but Scana Chairman and CEO Kevin Marsh said it would be “reasonable to expect” a similar delay on that unit, which SCE&G had been expecting to bring online in May 2018, or 14 months after Unit 2.

Marsh said there "are likely to be some differences of opinion" between Scana and Chicago Bridge & Iron—the Summer project’s primary contractor, with Westinghouse—on which firm is responsible for the up to $200 million in extra costs because of the additional time needed to fabricate the sub-modules.

Byrne said Scana earlier this year asked the new management at CB&I to provide an updated schedule in which it felt confident for sub-module delivery from CB&I’s Lake Charles sub-module-fabrication facility in Louisiana.

CB&I provided that updated schedule May 31, and SCE&G’s new estimate for when Unit 2 will likely come online is based upon that schedule, Byrne said. He noted that the last few sub-modules from CB&I Lake Charles have been delivered earlier than expected, but that faster pace of delivery is “not yet a trend.”

The estimated cost of SCE&G’s 55% share of the two-unit Summer expansion project remains well within budget at an estimated $5.766 billion, compared with the $6.313 billion approved by South Carolina regulators in 2009, Byrne said. All cost estimates include capital costs in 2007 dollars, plus escalation costs for labor and material and allowance for funds used during construction.
Byrne said that “in excess of two-thirds of” the project costs are “either fixed or firm” under SCE&G’s contract with the Westinghouse/CB&I consortium, which he said bodes well for the project’s final cost.