Published July 18, 2012
South Carolina Electric & Gas has notified state regulators it will spend $3 million over the next four years to meet new and future federal safety rules adopted in response to last year’s nuclear disaster in Japan.
In a filing submitted Monday to the S.C. Public Service Commission, the utility said it will have to spend the money “in incremental operation and maintenance expenses.”
The filing will not involve any change in retail rates at this time. SCE&G, though, asked the commission to consider the costs a “regulatory asset” that the utility could defer to its balance sheet and possibly address in a future rate case.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission adopted a number of new safety rules following the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami caused reactor meltdowns at the power plant in northeastern Japan.
Following its investigation, the NRC decided to require licensees of existing nuclear power plants in the United States to implement safety enhancements to prepare for extreme natural events that would cause the loss of power and upgrade their ability to monitor spent fuel pools.
The enhancements are to be completed within two refueling outages or by Dec. 31, 2016, whichever comes first, according to SCE&G’s filing.
SCE&G currently operates a 966-megawatt reactor at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station with its state-operated partner Santee Cooper. The reactor went into operation in 1984.
SCE&G said the new NRC rules require it to conduct walk-downs of the plant to detect vulnerabilities, re-evaluation of hazards, develop new training procedures, make necessary modifications and develop support guidelines for Diverse and Flexible Mitigation Capability, or FLEX.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, FLEX:
- Provides portable equipment to assure that multiple means of obtaining power and cooling water are available to support key safety functions for all reactors at a site. Equipment includes portable pumps, generators, batteries, battery chargers, compressors, hoses, couplings, tools, debris clearing equipment and other materials.
- Provides reasonable protection of portable equipment to guard it from the severe natural phenomena predicted for that site by locating the equipment at diverse locations.
- Creates procedures and provides guidance for emergency response personnel for the use of FLEX equipment and capabilities.
- Provides for program controls to ensure regular maintenance and testing of FLEX equipment.
- Trains personnel in FLEX capability and response.