Mississippi electric supplier eyes share in Summer

16 April 2012

A wholesale electricity supplier in Mississippi is in discussions with Santee Cooper about buying a share of the output from the two reactors under construction at the VC Summer plant in South Carolina. South Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA) is also considering buying a portion of Santee Cooper's 45% ownership interest in the new units.

VC Summer 2 and 3 (NRC)
How the two AP1000s could look when completed at the Summer plant
(Image: NRC)

Santee Cooper announced that it had signed a letter of intent with SMEPA which provides for negotiations for the development of a power purchase agreement under which SMEPA would buy between 2% and 7% of the capacity and energy output from the new Summer units. This corresponds to some 4% to 14% of Santee Cooper's ownership interest in the two 1117 MWe AP1000 reactors. No financial terms were disclosed.

In addition, the power purchase agreement would include an option for SMEPA to purchase an undisclosed portion of Santee Cooper's 45% ownership interest. Santee Cooper - South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility - said that it began evaluating the size of its stake in the new Summer units in 2010, "a review that continues and has been disclosed with rating agencies and other key stakeholders." The remaining 55% of the Summer AP1000s is held by South Carolina Electricity and Gas (SCE&G).

South Mississippi Electric is a not-for-profit cooperative that generates, transmits and sells wholesale electricity to eleven member distribution cooperatives. These eleven member systems own and maintain approximately 56,300 miles of distribution lines and provide service to approximately 410,000 homes and businesses in Mississippi.

In July 2011, Santee Cooper signed a similar letter of intent with Duke Energy, under which Duke could negotiate to take a 5%-10% stake of the capacity and output from the new Summer units (about 10%-20% of Santee Cooper's ownership interest in them). It had yet another letter of intent in March 2011 with Florida-based Orlando Utilities Commission for a similar proportionate share of the capacity and output from the two units. However, a spokeswoman for Santee Cooper told Reuters that negotiations with the Florida Municipal Power Agency and the Orlando Utilities Commission had ended without any agreements, but talks with Duke are ongoing.

SCE&G and Santee Cooper received final regulatory approval earlier this month for the construction of two Westinghouse AP1000 units at the Summer plant, when the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided to issue combined construction and operating licences (COLs) for the reactors. Delays in securing the COLs - SCE&G had anticipated receiving approval in 2011 - have led to a rescheduling of completion dates for the units and to issues with early cost overruns which have recently been settled in an agreement between SCE&G and the Westinghouse-Shaw consortium. The new units are now expected to enter operation in 2017 and 2018.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News