Westinghouse delays Georgia reactor construction
US nuclear unit delays spell more trouble for Toshiba
SOICHI INAI, Nikkei staff writer
NEW YORK -- Major U.S. electric utility provider Southern Co. has said there will be a three- to six-month delay in the construction of two reactors by Westinghouse Electric, the American nuclear power unit of embattled Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, at Plant Vogtle in the state of Georgia.
The delay has been proposed for reactors 3 and 4 by Westinghouse, citing the need to analyze regulatory movements and work productivity, Southern said Wednesday.
The two reactors were initially planned to begin operating in June 2019 and June 2020, respectively. The launch dates will be delayed to December 2019 and September 2020, the company added.
In a telephone press conference on Wednesday, Southern President and CEO Thomas Fanning denied that the delay will have any major impact on the Atlanta-based company.
"Our fixed price contract continues to protect customers and shareholders alike," he said. "I think there's almost no changes in incurred cost."
With Toshiba in deep financial trouble, Fanning said, "We are closely monitoring the status of Toshiba and Westinghouse."
Fanning also denied the possibility of outsourcing construction to another company to avoid risk, and even voiced hope for shorter delays. "We believe Westinghouse is pulling in the best nuclear construction people and project management talent from all over the country to augment their efforts onsite," he said. "We've been meeting with management. In fact, we met with Westinghouse's chairman, Toshiba's chairman and the team there, [and] have been meeting with management all along the way."
On Feb. 14, U.S. electric power company Scana announced delays to the completion of two reactors under construction by Westinghouse at its Virgil C. Summer plant in South Carolina.
Reactors 2 and 3 at the plant were scheduled to go online at the end of August in 2019 and in August 2020, but the dates have been put back to April and December 2020, Scana said.
As delays to the construction of reactors cause rises in labor, leasing and other costs, Toshiba's financial trouble is directly traceable to Westinghouse's work.