South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G), principal subsidiary of SCANA Corp, and Santee Cooper, a state-owned electric and water utility in South Carolina, have selected the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design for possible deployment at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, South Carolina, USA, and are moving to submit a combined construction and operating license (COL).

The companies have announced the preferred site and preferred reactor design should they go forward with a new nuclear facility. Development of the COL application, which will cover two units, began in early 2006 with a goal of submitting the application to the NRC in the third quarter of 2007. Following an approximate three-year review process, the NRC could issue the COL in 2010. Providing that the climate for nuclear remains favourable, SCE&G and Santee Cooper would then proceed with construction beginning in 2010, with a projected in-service date of around 2015.

The move marks the third time in three weeks and the fourth time since October that major utilities or nuclear generating companies have picked the Westinghouse AP1000 as the technology basis for 10 COL applications.

“Even with modest load growth projections, both companies will need to add new base load electrical generation within the next 10 years,” said Neville Lorick, president of SCE&G. Lonnie Carter, president and chief executive officer of Santee Cooper, said: “The strong system load growth we are experiencing, coupled with the need for greater fuel diversity and the recent surge in coal and natural gas prices, necessitate that we consider new nuclear capacity.”

SCE&G would operate the new nuclear plant, and the companies would share the ownership and output of the new facility. SCE&G is also in the process of joining the NuStart Energy Development, which will work cooperatively to facilitate the COL application process and complete the engineering design of these advanced plants.

SCE&G and Santee Cooper are joint owners and share operating costs and generating output of the 1,000 MW V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, which began commercial operation in 1984. SCE&G is also the plant operator.

Westinghouse lauded the decision, “The announcement that SCE&G and Santee Cooper are proactively moving forward to prepare for possible nuclear fleet expansion reflects a forward-looking willingness to plan for rather than react to increases in future energy requirements,” said Steve Tritch, Westinghouse president and chief executive.