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Power The Almighty Buck

Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sure-there's-a-duke-nukem-joke-here dept.
mdsolar sends this news from the Associated Press: Expensive delays are piling up for the companies building new nuclear power plants, raising fresh questions about whether they can control the construction costs that crippled the industry years ago. The latest announcement came this week from executives at SCANA Corp., which has been warned by its builders the startup of the first of two new reactors in South Carolina could be delayed two years or more. ... That announcement may well foreshadow more delays for a sister project in eastern Georgia, and they have caught the attention of regulators and Wall Street. 'Delays generally cause cost increases, and the question becomes who's going to bear the costs?' said C. Dukes Scott, executive director of the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, a watchdog agency that monitors SCANA Corp.'s spending.

None of this is helpful for the nuclear power industry, which had hoped its newest generation of plants in Georgia and South Carolina would prove it could build without the delays and cost overruns so endemic years ago. When construction slows down, it costs more money to employ the thousands of workers needed to build a nuclear plant. Meanwhile, interest charges add up on the money borrowed to finance construction. A single day of delay in Georgia could cost $2 million, according to an analysis by utility regulators.
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Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry

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  • Just red tape? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Elledan (582730)
    It always amazes me to hear about cost overruns and delays with new nuclear plants considering that in essence they're little more complex than coal plants, which keep popping up everywhere without any apparent issues.

    So, is it just the red tape causing delays, or is it something else which make a nuclear plants so much more complex than a coal or gas plant?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      To say such profoundly and monumentally stupid things, you *must* be a programmer.

      • The article said absolutely nothing about the causes of delay. Since these are the standardized AP-1000 design, where is the delay coming from?

        • It's Obama's fault.

        • Re:Just red tape? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @07:45PM (#47686631) Homepage Journal
          "setbacks stem from a delay in fabrication and delivery of modules from Chicago Bridge & Iron out of Lake Charles, La., SCE&G officials said. They said 100 out of 146 project milestones have been completed, but many of them are being delayed because of a large structural module called a CAO1 that has not been delivered by CB&I.

          SCE&G officials said as many as half of the construction milestones could fall outside the 18-month construction window allowed by state regulators under the existing Summer guidelines.

          The delay revealed last year was estimated by SCE&G to cost about $278 million. In April, the S.C. Energy Users Committee and the Sierra Club took SCE&G to the Supreme Court asking that those cost delays be borne by SCE&G, not ratepayers, after the PSC ruled the charges could be passed off to the public."

          Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2014/0... [thestate.com]
          • So all we're really talking about is it taking time for a long-unused precision manufacturing capability to come up to speed once more? The same thing happened in the early days of our entry into WW II.

            • by mdsolar (1045926)
              Except that this would be a way to lose the war, not win it. http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-C... [rmi.org] And, when nuclear builds were common, factor of three overruns were common as well.
              • Cost overruns in the previous generation were common because of lack of standardization. In those days every nuke was an individually designed one-off. If every automobile were handmade to slightly different specifications, who could afford to drive?

                • by mdsolar (1045926)
                  That is very silly. GE, Westinghouse, Babcock & Wilcox and Combustion Engineering designed most reactors and reused their designs.
              • France built their nuclear reactors quite cheap. The trick is to do it in series so you can reduce tool costs, maintenance costs, training costs by using the same design more than once. South Korea has manufactured their reactors quickly. If you expedite the licensing, have a stable cash supply, do not go for exotic or untested designs you can build a nuclear reactor in four years. The APR and EPR are new designs and as such they are taking longer to build.

        • by dbIII (701233)
          That "standardized" AP-1000 design is not actually running anywhere yet (must be any day soon though).
          • http://www.world-nuclear-news.... [world-nuclear-news.org]
            http://www.world-nuclear-news.... [world-nuclear-news.org]

            The article claims it is expected to start operating this year. Construction started in 2009. So if they can do it it will begin operations 5 years after construction start which is quite good time for a novel design.

            • by dbIII (701233)
              There was press in 2012 about them being completed that year, and some again last year, but it was most likely hitting milestones being misreported as being nearly ready for operation. That's why I began writing "any day soon" each time I refer to them.
    • Erm, not so much. (Score:5, Informative)

      by stomv (80392) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @04:22PM (#47685887) Homepage

      First of all, nuclear power plants are far more complex than coal plants. Sure, the steam to electric part is identical, but controlling a nuclear reaction requires far different parts than crushing and burning coal.

      Secondly, coal fired power plants are not "popping up everywhere" in America. No new coal plants will be built anytime soon, because 111(b) prevents new sources of electric generation that emit more than ~1200 lbs CO2 per MWh (coal is ~2000 lbs). A few plants have opened in the past five years; we won't see any more.

      Thirdly, it isn't "red tape" that caused this latest delay -- it's the inability for suppliers of key components of the power plant to deliver the materials on time. The parts are specialized, the vendors capable of building (some of) those parts few and far between, and the list of parts that must be assembled in order rather long. Any delay ripples through the project, and the loan (plus interest) needs to get paid back, even if the plant isn't operating yet.

      The big risk in nuclear construction is a financial risk. It isn't until much later that the nuclear reaction itself becomes a challenge.

      • by Elledan (582730)
        True, the US kinda switched to natural gas and are now shipping coal to Europe :) Here in Germany we got 26 new coal plants built or under construction in the past few years alone.

        So the problem in the end is largely a logistics problem which should become less of an issue if more nuclear plants were being built due to the parts becoming less specialized. That's good to know, I guess :)
      • by rtb61 (674572)

        The problem with current reactor design is it is all based about getting huge amounts of power out in a short time, resulting in very high complexity and refuelling complications. This instead of pulsing the reaction and working to trickle the power out over the long term and avoiding refuelling and simplifying the design, many low output reactors rather than a few high output reactors.

    • Re:Just red tape? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nbauman (624611) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @04:27PM (#47685907) Homepage Journal

      It always amazes me to hear about cost overruns and delays with new nuclear plants considering that in essence they're little more complex than coal plants, which keep popping up everywhere without any apparent issues.

      So, is it just the red tape causing delays, or is it something else which make a nuclear plants so much more complex than a coal or gas plant?

      One reason is that they have a lot of quality control. If you have a stuck valve inside a reactor, you can't just go to Home Depot and get a replacement.

      Reactors are even more critical than aircraft. If a commercial airliner goes down, 300 people die. If a reactor blows up, you've got Chernobyl.

      The tight specifications are required not only for individual components, but also for the fault trees for the system as a whole. It's hard to eliminate the possibility of some unexpected failure along a pathway in the appendices of the safety documents that was assigned an insignificant probability. Like a tsunami overwhelming the system.

      The nuclear industry will tell you that the slow regulatory approval, with lots of opportunities for nuclear opponents to slow things down, are another reason.

      I don't have a conclusion about nuclear power myself. OTOH, 200 tons of uranium can cause a really bad day. OTOH, we've been running a couple of hundred nuclear power plants worldwide for, what, 40 years, and we've had only one major accident and a couple of minor ones. The health effects of coal power plant emissions are so horrible (50,000 deaths a year in the U.S., more in China) that coal makes nuclear look attractive. I've been waiting for affordable solar and wind power for a long time.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by angel'o'sphere (80593)

        You never have 50,000 death per year in the US to coal.
        Perhaps 5 to 10 in the long time average due to mining accidents. I really doubt the total number of workers mining coal is close to that number.
        And: fix your damn mining safety issues instead of blaming it to 'coal', mining of uranium is only marginally more safe.

        • Re:Just red tape? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ultranova (717540) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @05:56PM (#47686215)

          You never have 50,000 death per year in the US to coal.
          Perhaps 5 to 10 in the long time average due to mining accidents. I really doubt the total number of workers mining coal is close to that number.

          As you surely know, coal plants are huge polluters and pollution causes health issues, which in turn add up to early deaths, even if we ignore damage done to environment.

          But then again, opposing nuclear power is not really about protecting humans or nature, now is it? It has long since turned into politics, where opposition is based more on identity than rational calculation of risks and rewards of various options. And who knows, perhaps being hit by the double-whammy of full-power climate change and energy crisis simultaneously will finally teach humanity to not treat important decisions as tribal identifiers. It's something we must learn before we venture beyond this planet, since the cost of irrational stupidity will continue getting higher. But I fear the lesson will be exremely painful, even by the scale of these things.

          And: fix your damn mining safety issues instead of blaming it to 'coal', mining of uranium is only marginally more safe.

          Thousandfold decrease in mining causes a thousandfold decrease in mining-related deaths, even before factoring in such details as coal being highly flammable and uranium being not. Also, unlike coal, uranium can be extracted from seawater, so with it we could theoretically eliminate mining altogether.

          • It was politics to force nuclear as pork projects so other politics responded. An interesting thing to ponder is the lobbying from nuclear industry groups against thorium research - it had the potential to threaten their installed base and allow new players into the game. Also ponder lobbying against taking naval designs onto the civilian nuclear scene. The US nuclear industry ate it's own children. It's a slow slide down with dead cat bounces like the AP-1000 from when Westinghouse brought in some 1970
          • "It has long since turned into politics" In a way, nuclear power is suitable to totalitarian systems that believe they will exist forever. There is no problem with nuclear waste in an eternal police state. In a Jeffersonian democracy, the possibility of a hiatus in police power is needed to rescue the liberty that authority is normally constituted to preserve. That does not really fit with being able to permanently guard nuclear waste.
        • Re:Just red tape? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by nbauman (624611) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @06:48PM (#47686405) Homepage Journal

          You never have 50,000 death per year in the US to coal.
          Perhaps 5 to 10 in the long time average due to mining accidents. I really doubt the total number of workers mining coal is close to that number.
          And: fix your damn mining safety issues instead of blaming it to 'coal', mining of uranium is only marginally more safe.

          You can never calculate exactly how many people die from coal emissions, so I used an estimate that would be in the neighborhood. There are lots of people dying of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and bronchitis. They're going to die eventually, when their lung function goes down below a certain threshold, and coal emissions brings their lung function down a little sooner. Another vulnerable group is people with heart failure.

          Here's an estimate of 24,000 lives a year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] In the 1980s I used to work on the same floor as a bunch of energy industry magazines, and they had reports floating around from different organizations, which I would pick up occasionally. I remember reading some surprising number like 50,000. I don't have those reports around any more so I can't easily check. It might have been 50,000 in the 1980s, because that was around the time coal plants were installing pollution control equipment. The pollution control equipment was fairly expensive, particularly because it cut the power output by about 10%. You can make coal emissions as clean as you want, if you can spend a sufficient amount of money. There were debates during the Reagan era about things like, "How much should society spend to save the life of a 4-year-old girl with asthma?" (The economists said $220,000.)

          The best-documented and highest estimates of the number of deaths from coal power that I saw came from the nuclear power industry. The worse coal looks, the better nuclear looks. They were fond of saying that coal plants had higher emissions of uranium and radium than nuclear plants did (barring catastrophe). Those guys are pretty good engineers. I hope they know what they're doing. The American Lung Association also had some similar figures.

          Coal mining used to be one of the most dangerous occupations in America, but it's gotten safer because (1) open pit mining is safer (2) even underground mining can be safe if they follow safety rules with the same diligence that the nuclear or airline industry does. There are a few companies that have a, shall we say, investor-centered approach to safety, and they have most of the accidents. The Wall Street Journal used to love to run stories about mine accidents on the front page, and look up the mine owner's records of safety violations, injuries and deaths with MSHA. In the last big US mine accident, there was strong evidence that the supervisors were deliberately violating safety rules about ventilation etc. In some countries, that would be a crime and they would go to jail.

          Uranium mining has some problems with the radioactive dust and gas in the air. I don't know if they can filter it out. You can filter anything, but you might not be able to breathe for more than 10 minutes with a filter that traps the very smallest particles, and you couldn't do any heavy work. But at least uranium mines don't have coal damp.

          • by tnk1 (899206)

            I've always seen the "deaths due to..." as being difficult to really make sense of, unless they deaths are somehow gruesome, unusually painful, or immediate.

            The way to look at this is to set a goal: all people in a certain area should be able to live to 90 years of age with nothing more than effects of aging. Then you start determining what are the lowest hanging fruits for obstacles to hitting that target. Is it coal plant exhaust? Fatty foods? Not enough sex? Simply genetics? Whatever it is, get a l

            • by nbauman (624611)

              I've always seen the "deaths due to..." as being difficult to really make sense of, unless they deaths are somehow gruesome, unusually painful, or immediate.

              The way to look at this is to set a goal: all people in a certain area should be able to live to 90 years of age with nothing more than effects of aging. Then you start determining what are the lowest hanging fruits for obstacles to hitting that target. Is it coal plant exhaust? Fatty foods? Not enough sex? Simply genetics? Whatever it is, get a list and figure it out statistically based on what is actually happening in death statistics and diagnoses of chronic illnesses.

              I read a lot of the medical literature every week. In general, it's difficult to tell whether something like fatty foods is responsible for deaths, and it's more difficult to figure out the magnitude of the effect. For the most part, all we have are associational studies, and associational studies are wrong as often as they're right. There's still no consensus on the effects of salt.

              Most of those factors have very low magnitudes of effect and very wide confidence intervals. So fatty foods might turn out to

          • by istartedi (132515)

            The problem with looking at people with asthma who die from coal emissions is that you're not looking at people who die due to energy being too expensive. When energy is too expensive, people might stay in the cold house with stiff joints not getting enough exercise. They might forego medication or food to keep the heater going. How many lives does coal save because of the cheaper energy?

            I'm not entirely disagreeing with you... it's just that when you start down the path of indirect analysis, you have t

          • by Guppy (12314)

            Don't forget the mercury output as well. It's largely thanks to coal that a few pounds of swordfish steaks now contain (on average) as much mercury as a typical CFL bulb, and the level of mercury in our oceans continues to slowly increase over time.

      • by danlip (737336)

        Your classifying Fukushima as a minor accident? It's classified as level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the highest level possible. I agree that it is not as bad as Chernobyl, but hardly minor.

        • by nbauman (624611)

          Your classifying Fukushima as a minor accident? It's classified as level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the highest level possible. I agree that it is not as bad as Chernobyl, but hardly minor.

          I was counting the number of immediate deaths, which were zero for Fukushima and 56 for Chernobyl. I wasn't familiar with the INES. As people say, the INES isn't suited for all purposes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          I was also trying to bend over backwards to be generous to the nuclear power industry. The Japanese really fucked up at the most important time, before the accident, but at least they had a few layers of defenses left. Chernobyl blew the roof off. If I had to choose between being the plant m

      • The health effects of coal power plant emissions are so horrible (50,000 deaths a year in the U.S., more in China)

        No, you're thinking of second-hand smoke [lung.org].

        • by nbauman (624611)

          The health effects of coal power plant emissions are so horrible (50,000 deaths a year in the U.S., more in China)

          No, you're thinking of second-hand smoke [lung.org].

          Notice that they say "22,700 to 69,600 deaths from heart disease each year." That's because there's a wide confidence interval. That page has a very important lesson -- none of these numbers are exact, and they all have a range. That's because it's difficult to figure out what the effects are. When I talk to these people, one of the questions I ask is, "Where did you get those numbers from?" They use good methods, but they'll be the first to acknowledge in their papers that their methods and results aren't

      • by mpe (36238)
        Reactors are even more critical than aircraft. If a commercial airliner goes down, 300 people die. If a reactor blows up, you've got Chernobyl.

        Comparing Chernobyl to MH17 or Fukushima to JAL123 dosn't really support that conclusion though.
    • Re:Just red tape? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @04:33PM (#47685929)
      Part of the problem is that the infrastructure and supply paths for constructing nuclear plants has to be re-constituted as no plants have been built for quite some time. In the case of the Westinghouse plants, their 'modular' assembly facilities had to be built as well and put into production. Nuclear plants require large metal components on a scale that isn't commonly needed. It also requires meticulous tracking of materials and manufacturing activities for quality assurance. Once the supply lines are re-established, it all gets a lot easier and more predictable. Its not a technology issue, its an infrastructure one. We just need to start building more.

      Even with higher than predicted costs, its still quite economic. Like any large capital project, getting it going is the hard part.
      • by afidel (530433)

        Part of the problem is that the infrastructure and supply paths for constructing nuclear plants has to be re-constituted as no plants have been built for quite some time.

        Not really, the first two AP1000 are basically finished in China, only about 9 months behind the original schedule whereas these US plants are looking to be about 4 years behind the original schedule. I have to assume it's the typical contractor issue where there's plenty of money to be made being part of the problem.

        • The infrastructure in China is actually further ahead than that in the US. You can 'assume' it is something else if you want.
          • by tnk1 (899206)

            In certain categories, yes. I would hesitate to make a blanket statement to that effect about the entire infrastructure.

            It does have the benefit of being newer, mostly because they've had to either build it for the first time, or replace the crap they used before. However, that issue is not fully remedied all over China and not in all sectors.

          • by afidel (530433)

            The AP1000 is a worldwide design, and Westinghouse is going to use parts of the supply chain from China for plants around the world (like just about everything else more complicated than a bread box). My point was that they've managed to supply all of the parts for the Chinese facilities very close to on time so the delays are not with Westinghouse, they're with the US based construction contractors.

            • China sources much of their reactor equipment locally. There is a lot more to the supply chain than just the primary system components, which Westinghouse supplies. The large modular sections for the Chinese reactors are not produced in the US, they are produced in China. The large modular sections for the US plants are produced in the US.
    • Re:Just red tape? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tailhook (98486) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @04:41PM (#47685955)

      The links provided in the story are the usual, information free sort one expects from mdsolar as he plies his anti-nook trade around Slashdot. There are better news stories written about this and the bottom line is a subcontractor is falling behind making "submodules." This [heraldindependent.com] story from yesterday points the finger at Chicago Bridge & Iron in Louisiana, and this story [powermag.com] actually provides a little detail about the submodules that CB&I are trying to make. The builders are moving some of this work to other facilities and contractors because of CB&I failures. Another story [reuters.com] a year ago also names CB&I as the culprit for delays.

      So it's a manufacturing problem and not a regulator hold up. Manufacturing problems are solvable (we've built stuff like this many times) and not as appealing to mdsolar as a nasty regulatory tangle, so he deliberately avoided stories with specifics.

      • Let's not hamstring projects with a feelgood but impractical "Buy American" requirement. That's the main reason for military gear being so overpriced. If Korea, Japan or China can get components to us faster, more power to them.

        • Re:Just red tape? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by laird (2705) <lairdp AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday August 17, 2014 @01:13AM (#47687617) Journal

          Having your military supply chain depend on countries that you might be fighting against is a terrible plan. It's also in the national interest for the US to retain engineering and manufacturing capabilities. And, of course there's the possibility that they embed controls into the devices that they sell us, the way the NSA pre-hacked hardware being sold by US companies only in the other direction.

          So really, it kinda does matter.

          • This is a civilian project, not military, so no. Last time I checked, the only steel company that makes reactor vessels, even to American designs, is in Tokyo. I wish we had our own capability too, but while we acquire it we will have to line up for the Japanese product.

            • by laird (2705)

              I was replying to the comment that said "Let's not hamstring projects with a feel good but impractical 'Buy American' requirement. That's the main reason for military gear being so overpriced. If Korea, Japan or China can get components to us faster, more power to them.".

              For civilian products, using whoever is most competitive can make sense (though our policy of paying companies to decimate their US manufacturing and engineering capability is stupid). But for military systems in particular, outsourcing to

              • I was not proposing that the Buy American policy change for the military. I was arguing for not having Buy American for nuclear construction.

                • by laird (2705)

                  For nuclear power, there's a similar argument to military - do you want your key infrastructure to be dependent on a supply chain that's not under your control? Imagine, for example, that key components come from China or Korea, and those countries decide to cut us off so we can't get repair parts. That could (eventually) force the US to have to either operate unsafely or shut down power plants.

                  This isn't theoretical - the US has done exactly this to cut off allies who became enemies, grounding their airpla

                  • One of the great benefits of standardized reactor designs is that they promote a domestic industry in the long run. But we have a chicken-and-egg problem here: new nuclear order have been in hiatus for so long that the essential supply chain is now located in the ongoing nuclear world that no longer includes us. Reactor vessels right now have to come from Tokyo, and the uranium we mine here in my state has to go to France for enrichment and fabrication. Once a new domestic market is established, there will

    • Money schmoney. Funny money. Forget about money, do the right thing. Build secure nuclear plants. Security is the biggest cost with them, compared to a coal plant. Not pollution or waste, and if anything, coal plants pollute more mercury than anything in the world. The purpose of money is to make sure everyone got food on the table first, then a roof over the head second, and electric to the home third. Whatever you gotta do to make that happen, without nuclear accidents and terrorists of course, and hopefu

      • Or to put it another way, the mercury in the can of tuna or seafood you buy in the store comes from the electric that powers your WIFI devices, through the coal that was burnt to get it. A large fraction of it at least.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      It always amazes me to hear about cost overruns and delays with new nuclear plants considering that in essence they're little more complex than coal plants

      It astonishes me outright that you've come to that conclusion. I suggest starting with wikipedia since your education let you down so badly.

      So, is it just the red tape causing delays, or is it something else which make a nuclear plants so much more complex than a coal or gas plant?

      There are some specialised reactor parts that take a long time to fabricat

    • Chiming in here because I used to be directly involved with this project.

      Supplier delays come down to government regulation, ASME and NRC interference, and I offer this as an example:

      -Congress had to approve the specific design plan for this plant (and every other plant).
      -ASME randomly updates a portion of Section 8 code that changes the definition of SA316SS.
      -Supplier tasked with supplying 316SS components finds out that these components are no longer viable due to the changed definition of the material.
      -O

      • by Elledan (582730)
        Interesting. That would explain why China for example can build this type of reactor without major delays and the US can't. Nice of the US to sabotage itself like that :)
        • China is having delays too.

          But understand this: China ordered 2-3 AP1000 plants from Westinghouse. Westinghouse built them, but concurrently sold the design for the AP1000 plant to China, knowing that China would steal the design anyway.

          China intends to go fully nuclear, using the AP1000 design; their major hiccup is that their internal chinese suppliers - the same ones that WE use for non-nuclear power utilities. Chinese vendors forge parts. They forge forgings, as in "Fake forgings." WCC instead of

  • by McGruber (1417641) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @04:24PM (#47685895)
    Since 2009, Georgia electric customers have been paying a "Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery” fee to fund the building of the Plant Vogle reactors. This tax currently adds 7.6% to a customer's electric monthly bill.

    Here is an October 2013 article about a protest against the tax: Georgia Power Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery Tariff Excites Local Protest [dadesentinel.com]

    And here's an organization that is protesting the tax: STOPCWIP.COM, which is short for STOP Construction Work In Progress [stopcwip.com]

    They point out that the Nuke owners are guaranteed a 11.5% return no matter how late the plant is:

    In 2009, the Georgia General Assembly passed “Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act,” making it legal for Georgia electric utilities to charge customers in advance to construct the nuclear reactors. The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) subsequently approved Georgia Power and other owners of Plant Vogtle to charge the CWIP tax which will be collected during the whole construction period, no matter how long it will take, and allow Georgia Power and the other Vogtle owners a guaranteed profit with a protected return on investment of 11.15%.

    • by khallow (566160)

      They point out that the Nuke owners are guaranteed a 11.5% return no matter how late the plant is:

      Unless that plan gets canceled or scaled back in a variety of ways. Substantial construction delays make it more likely that they're not going to get that guarantee.

    • There in Georgia, you have been paying lower than national average electric rates for many years, largely due to the existing nuclear fleet that was also paid for by "the people", as any source is in one way or another.
    • I guess for americans it is always easier to complain about 'subsidizes' in other countries for wind and solar than for 'taxes' in their own country on nuclear. But well, that is Georgia, the state, not the country ... perhaps no one cares?

    • Arg..... a "cost plus" contract, they are always a bad idea when not dealing with bleeding edge tech or extremely critical projects. They give companies a significant incentive to milk a project for as long and for as much as possible. Bid projects out at a fixed price, companies don't get a dime until they reach concrete milestones. If they don't reach those milestones on time and on budget they eat the costs and that part of the project is rebid. It should also be noted that the bill giving them the e

  • Brand new designs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @04:25PM (#47685899)
    The AP-1000 is a brand new design and apparently they are having troubles building many of the components, as well as with the in place fabrication techniques. In theory, once they fix those problems follow on plants should be able to be built faster because the teething problems would be solved. the reality is it will be hard to convince people to build them because of the delays.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      If it's not a road-tested design, one should factor in delays.

    • There's some AP-1000s about to go online any day now in China. I know I've been writing that for about 3 years but the expected commissioning date in the press has always been vague.
      • There's some AP-1000s about to go online any day now in China. I know I've been writing that for about 3 years but the expected commissioning date in the press has always been vague.

        It'll be interesting to see how they do. They started as the AP-600 design but were uprated for China while the US market always had the 1000 as it's target.

  • Typically the endless lawsuits and anti-nuclear activism are the source of delays for nuclear construction. Even if not directly, then by proxy of the NRC, which is ineffective thanks to regulations based on ALARA [wikipedia.org] and pseudo-science (LNT [wikipedia.org]). If the NRC regulated based on solid science and legitimate safely concerns, it would be tremendously less expensive to meet nuclear safety standards. Unfortunately, our presidents have had a habit of appointing unqualified and nuclear-hostile people like Gregory Jackzo [atomicinsights.com]

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Problem is we can't trust the operators to stick to the regulations and not cut every single corner they possibly can to reduce cost. Even with such heavy regulations we see regular problems and environmental damage.

      By the way, can you cite any of these lawsuits or regulatory issues? I have a feeling most of the cost is just due to the usual incompetence and some wildly optimistic estimates designed to get the state to agree subsidies for the plant, such as the construction surcharge that has been in place

      • Do you have a citation for this "environmental damage"? Real damage, not caused by nuclear weapons manufacturing, and not the "OMG, three atoms of tritium escaped, we're all going to die!" sort of "damage".

        The costs of the plants are a matter of record, so have a look [depletedcranium.com]. The NRC opened the door for litigation, and otherwise mired the nuclear industry. The AEC was an effective regulatory agency with an excellent safety record and reasonable costs. Under the NRC, costs skyrocketed and a number of reactors w

    • by fermion (181285)
      So the solution to this is to build nuclear plants where we can get minimum regulations and avoid lawsuits. These location should be where no one really wants to live, so that people are not going to effected and need to file lawsuits to protect themselves. I have often thought that the states from Washington to Minnesota, which taken together from a significant net drain on the national budget, should be asked to secede and form a country that exemplify conservative values such as an aggressive free mark
      • by mdsolar (1045926)
        "Located at the geographic center of North America, North Dakota has a continental climate characterized by large temperature variations, irregular precipitation, plentiful sunshine, low humidity, and nearly continuous wind. Serious flooding caused by heavy rainfall occurs occasionally." http://www.eia.gov/state/analy... [eia.gov]

        Not ideal for nuclear power with the flooding risk.
    • Typically the endless lawsuits and anti-nuclear activism are the source of delays for nuclear construction.

      True, but the idea behind the combined operation license was to allow construction and operation to continue while license issues are litigated. The delays in plant Vogtle and in SC are from the challenges with actually building the plant since much of the equipment has never been built before so they must building, testing, and constructing while they are trying to create a commercial plant on a tight schedule.

      Another source of delay, is the lack of nuclear construction for decades, leaving the construction industry and supply chains to languish. Neither cost is inherent in nuclear construction, and both can be corrected. Delays of any large construction project are very expensive, and this is the primary means employed by anti-nuclear ideologues to drive up the cost. The submitter (mdsolar) may or may not have participated, but clearly has an axe to grind and the willingness to exploit the situation to peddle his ideology

      While there are very real concerns about the lack of construction experience as well as longer te

      • True, but the idea behind the combined operation license was to allow construction and operation to continue while license issues are litigated. The delays in plant Vogtle and in SC are from the challenges with actually building the plant since much of the equipment has never been built before so they must building, testing, and constructing while they are trying to create a commercial plant on a tight schedule.

        While there are very real concerns about the lack of construction experience as well as longer term engineering and operational support, these delays seem to be self inflicted, from issues with concrete pours to assuming brand new designs can be built on a very tight schedule where many of the components have never been built or used before.

        Read more about the the Vogtle rebar issue [atomicinsights.com]. It is not fair to dismiss it as self-inflicted, when the regulator insists upon perfection and is unresponsive to circumstances. The rebar was installed to current building standards, rather than those in place when the design was approved. It was a small deviation and eventually the NRC allowed it with minor modifications. The problem is that such a minor issue can introduce a 6+ month delay when interaction with the NRC are required.

        Regulations should be foc

        • by Mspangler (770054)

          "It is silly to require an N-stamp on every last nut and bolt (even in non-safety related systems) rather than using off the shelf parts where suitable."

          That is a legacy of the Thresher. You don't always know what part is really critical until it fails.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

          As far as "Regulations should be focused on safe designs, not on libraries of paperwork certifying safety" I wholeheartedly agree. But OSHA does not. They want an auditable full documentation paper trial of every change, no ma

        • True, but the idea behind the combined operation license was to allow construction and operation to continue while license issues are litigated. The delays in plant Vogtle and in SC are from the challenges with actually building the plant since much of the equipment has never been built before so they must building, testing, and constructing while they are trying to create a commercial plant on a tight schedule.

          While there are very real concerns about the lack of construction experience as well as longer term engineering and operational support, these delays seem to be self inflicted, from issues with concrete pours to assuming brand new designs can be built on a very tight schedule where many of the components have never been built or used before.

          Read more about the the Vogtle rebar issue [atomicinsights.com]. It is not fair to dismiss it as self-inflicted, when the regulator insists upon perfection and is unresponsive to circumstances. The rebar was installed to current building standards, rather than those in place when the design was approved. It was a small deviation and eventually the NRC allowed it with minor modifications. The problem is that such a minor issue can introduce a 6+ month delay when interaction with the NRC are required.

          While all I know about the bear issue is from the news I'd still lay most of the responsibility on the licensee and architect engineer. The regulator is not insisting on perfection but rather on the licensee complying with the COL. The COL was intended to limit delays through litigation so it is important to ensure you meet all the requirements to the letter lest you get sued later on the grounds you are not compliant with the COL. While many deviations truly are trivial, the NRC still must ensure it follow

    • Getting the facts completely wrong seems to be the main defining feature of nuclear fanbois. These delays are self-inflicted. http://www.thestate.com/2014/0... [thestate.com]
    • by mspohr (589790)

      I guess you didn't read the article (or the posts above) which said the delays are caused by manufacturers of structural components not delivering on time... or perhaps that doesn't fit into your ideological rant against "gummt regulation and the environmental weenies".

    • The submitter (mdsolar) may or may not have participated, but clearly has an axe to grind and the willingness to exploit the situation to peddle his ideology

      mdsolar is, if you've followed nuclear and alternative power stories on /. for the past couple of years, seriously anti-nuclear - to the point of mendaciousness.

      • by mdsolar (1045926)
        I support nuclear propulsion in naval applications. Commercial nuclear power is rather obviously a poor technology choice with a high catastrophic accident rate, no waste disposal solution and is way too expensive.
  • Meanwhile, interest charges add up on the money borrowed to finance construction. A single day of delay in Georgia could cost $2 million, according to an analysis by utility regulators.

    This help explain why a good 35% [theweek.com] of adult Americans' debt is in collections.

    But then, we go ahead and brag about how good a standard of living we enjoy as compared to those other world citizens, conveniently refusing to mention that most of that standard of living is financed by borrowed cash!

    • by tomhath (637240)

      This help explain why a good 35% [theweek.com] of adult Americans' debt is in collections.

      The article you linked to does not say that. It does put a few numbers close to each other in way that seems to intentionally mislead a person to that conclusion though.

      What it does say is that roughly 35% of people with debt (not all Americans) have a bill (not all of their debt) that is at least 180 days overdue.

  • Can anyone cite a case where a nuclear power station was brought on line in time and on budget? OK, even only a little bit late and a little bit over budget? Oh alright, not too late and not rediculously over budget?

    The only reason I can see for building them is to make more fissile materials for nuclear warheads. Why do you think Washington and various other countries are so upset about Iran's nuclear energy programme? What's more, the design of all the world's nuclear power plants are scaled up versions o

  • SCE&G, which is building the plants with state-owned utility Santee Cooper and has a 55 percent stake in the project, won regulatory approval to raise rates annually for its current customers to help pay for the construction of the nuclear power plants. SCE&G ratepayers already have ponied up numerous increases for the nuclear project, the latest one approved in May. “We have warned from the start of this risky project that it would face significant delays and cost increases, so there is unfo
  • Honestly. This is just going to continue being a problem for these overly complex, Rube Goldberg device solid fuel, pressurized water reactors.

    Creating the fission reaction is the EASY part. Even keeping it under control is fairly brain-dead simple. The problem is that a psychotic amount of over-engineering goes into a complex, heavily layered disaster shutdown system. And, because the engineering is so complex, and the tolerances so exacting, even marginal variances explode the project from expensive t

    • by greg_barton (5551)

      What catalyst are you referring to? The purpose of the salt dump is to disperse the fuel into a subcritical geometry.

    • These proposed new designs need to be developed on a parallel track to the actual building of the standardized design we already have ready to build. Let's not fall into the "Let's wait for..." trap. Doing so would result in, at least, years of an energy-starved economy. If the AGW effect turns out to be real, and as apocalyptic as the left claims it is, delay would be fatal, not just inconvenient, for us all.

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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