The end came thanks to overruns on two nuclear plant projects, one for the Georgia-based Southern Company and one for Scana in South Carolina, that were started back in 2008. They went slowly, awfully wrong. And thanks to a project in China that is being built using the same design, we can see what the problems were: skilled labour productivity and regulation-driven change orders. Thanks to Westinghouse, now we know the welders, steamfitters, equipment operators and experienced supervisors who could actually do the work are not there now. Presumably their children and grandchildren did the clever thing and acquired degrees in computer science, or became assistant deans in policy planning schools. There are, apparently, only negligible cost overrun problems in the construction of the AP1000 nuclear project in Sanmen in China. Westinghouse did not accept responsibility for managing the construction labour at the Sanmen project, unlike the two US AP1000 plants. Many of the best welders and equipment operators have been taken up by the shale companies, or the pipeline construction projects that have been driven by the growth of that industry. Westinghouse really tried. It bought Stone & Webster, the original US contractor, hoping to shorten the chain of command and get better control. Then it brought in Fluor, one of the best-regarded global engineering groups. Nothing worked. According to March testimony by Lisa Donahue, leader of the turnround and restructuring group at AlixPartners, a consultancy working for Westinghouse, by late autumn 2016, “Westinghouse and Fluor estimated that completion of the US AP1000 projects on schedule could require $3.7bn in additional labour costs. Second, equipment prices and vendor costs . . . could drive up costs by an additional $1.8bn. Finally, additional risk and contingency planning . . . could increase costs by $600m.”
FT 13th April 2017 read more »
The roots of Toshiba’s admission this week that it has serious doubts over its “ability to continue as a going concern” can be found near two small US towns. It is the four reactors being built for nuclear power stations outside Waynesboro, in Georgia, and Jenkinsville, South Carolina, by the company’s US subsidiary Westinghouse that have left the Japanese corporation facing an annual loss of £7.37bn. Construction work on the units has run hugely over budget and over schedule, casting a shadow over two of the biggest new nuclear power station projects in the US for years. Westinghouse’s problems in Waynesboro and Jenkinsville could provide a cautionary tale for the UK, which is also embarking on a nuclear power station-building programme. Experts said the delays and cost problems were due to America’s lack of recent experience in building atomic power plants.
Guardian 14th April 2017 read more »
The company contracted to build Scana Corp.’s two nuclear reactors in South Carolina went bankrupt. Scana’s credits ratings are, as a result, at risk of downgrades. Its shares have plunged. And now some of the people hired to help finish the reactors aren’t showing up for work. In a meeting Wednesday, Scana executives assured South Carolina regulators that work continues on the two reactors being installed at its V.C. Summer plant, despite Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric unit filing for Chapter 11 last month. But the Cayce, South Carolina-based utility owner also said Westinghouse is cutting weekend and overtime work and that contractor Fluor Corp. has seen a “high incidence” of new hires failing to show up for training since Westinghouse went bankrupt. “We’re monitoring this aspect of the project to see if that trend continues,” Stephen Byrne, a senior vice president at Scana, said, based on a transcript released by the state Public Service Commission Thursday. “Work continues on-site without substantial disruption,” he said, adding that about $120 million a month is being paid to keep up construction. Westinghouse’s bankruptcy has thrown the fate of both Scana’s reactors and Southern’s Vogtle nuclear project in Georgia into question. Westinghouse has estimated that finishing the plants may cost another $4 billion that it can’t collect from Southern and Scana. The projects are already years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Byrne identified Fluor and Bechtel as two companies capable of finishing Scana’s project should Westinghouse drop out as lead contractor.
Energy Voice 14th April 2017 read more »
Westinghouse expects South Carolina nuclear plant will cost another $1.5 billion.
Aiken Standard 13th April 2017 read more »