A recent Associated Press story offered a blurry snapshot of large, complex nuclear power plant projects that will prove upon completion to be highly beneficial to electricity customers and regional economies. These snapshots don't reflect key factors, including long-term contracts for materials and labor at set prices, lower-than-forecasted interest rates and other related financing costs that play out over the life of the project.
To illustrate, at some point during construction there may have been a delay in the construction schedule due to small design changes. The result could be a temporary spike in the plant cost projection at that particular moment. At the same time there will be savings down the line from reduced expenses. As for additional plants beyond those being built in Georgia and South Carolina, the industry has said that new construction will proceed at a measured pace.
The industry expects nuclear plant construction to accelerate in the 2020s given the overall economic recovery and the impact of federal air quality regulations on fossil-fuel generation.
Scott Peterson, Washington, D.C.
Peterson is senior vice president of the Nuclear Energy Institute.