An $8 Billion Lesson

Two South Carolina utilities have abandoned two nuclear reactors they were working on in the state. The construction project has cost them $8 billion so far, and it was nowhere near completion. Estimates were as high as $25 billion to bring the reactors online, and given the dropping cost of power, it no longer made sense for the utilities to continue. The episode is a blow to the reputation of the nuclear industry, an impact from which it might not recover. Nuclear generation has been on its heels for some time. After a burst of reactor building, construction largely stopped for decades and those projects that were tackled were often problematic. Now the industry can add two more reactor shells to projects around the US that have never been completed. One should ask why any utility would consider splitting atoms given the headaches that result. It is still early to call the nuclear industry dead, but it is on life support.