Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station

Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station

Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station Unit 1
Location of Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station in South Carolina
Country United States
Location Fairfield County, South Carolina
Coordinates 34°17′55″N 81°18′53″W / 34.29861°N 81.31472°W / 34.29861; -81.31472Coordinates: 34°17′55″N 81°18′53″W / 34.29861°N 81.31472°W / 34.29861; -81.31472
Status Operational
Construction began March 21, 1973
Commission date January 1, 1984
Construction cost $1.3 billion (Unit 1)
Owner(s) South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (66.7%)
South Carolina Public Service Authority (33.3%)
Operator(s) SCE&G
Nuclear power station
Reactor type 3-loop PWR (Unit 1)
AP1000 (Units 2 & 3)
Reactor supplier Westinghouse
Cooling source Monticello Reservoir (Unit 1)
Cooling towers 6 (under construction) (Units 2 & 3)
Power generation
Units operational 1 × 966 MW
Make and model General Electric (Unit 1)
Toshiba (Units 2 & 3)
Units under const. 2 × 1117 MW
Capacity factor 100.2%
Average generation 8,479 GWh

The Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station occupies a site near Jenkinsville, South Carolina, in Fairfield County, South Carolina, approximately 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Columbia. The nuclear power station includes the decommissioned experimental Carolinas-Virginia Tube Reactor (CVTR) unit, just outside the site of the old town of Parr, SC. The CVTR was a 17 MWe, heavy water reactor. Its cooling water is supplied by the Monticello Reservoir (not to be confused with the Monticello Nuclear Generating Station in Minnesota), which is also used by a pumped storage (hydroelectric) unit. The plant utilizes a once-through cooling system.

This plant has one Westinghouse 3-loop Pressurized Water Reactor, which has received approval of a 20-year license extension, taking the license expiration of Unit 1 from 2022 to 2042. The plant is also in the process of constructing two Westinghouse AP1000 plants, which are currently on schedule to go online in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The plant is named after Virgil Clifton Summer, the former Chairman and CEO of SCE&G.[1]

Unit 1

V. C. Summer Unit 1 is a Westinghouse 3-loop Pressurized Water Reactor. The reactor first began commercial operation on January 1, 1984. The plant cost $1.3 billion to construct – 24 percent less per kilowatt than the average of 13 nuclear plants constructed over the same time period.[2]

Unit 1 generates 2,900 MWt (Thermal Megawatts) of heat,[3] supplying a net output of 966 MWe (Electric Megawatts) of electricity to the grid.

In 2001, the Summer unit operated at 79.9 percent of capacity, producing 6.76 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. In 2007 it produced 8.48 billion kilowatt-hours, increasing its capacity factor to 100.2 percent.[4]

About two-thirds (66.7 percent) of the Summer plant is owned by its operator, the South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G), a subsidiary of the SCANA corporation. The remaining 33.3 percent is owned by the South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper).

Units 2 and 3

On March 27, 2008, South Carolina Electric & Gas applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) to build two 1,100 MW AP1000 pressurized water reactors at the site.[5] On May 27, 2008, SCE&G and Santee Cooper announced an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract had been reached with Westinghouse.[6] Costs were estimated to be approximately $9.8 billion for both AP1000 units, plus transmission facility and financing costs. The operators are filing an application to increase customers bills by $1.2 billion (2.5%) during the construction period to partially finance capital costs.[7]

In March 2012, the NRC approved the construction license of the two proposed reactors at the Summer plant. As with the license approval for the Vogtle plant, NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko cast the lone dissenting vote, saying “I continue to believe that we should require that all Fukushima-related safety enhancements are implemented before these new reactors begin operating”.[8] The reactors were expected to go on-line in 2017 and 2018 respectively.[9]

The construction of Unit 2 began officially on March 9, 2013, with the pouring of concrete for the basemat. The placement of the first concrete was completed on March 11, 2013. Unit 2 is the first reactor to start construction in the US in 30 years.[10] First concrete for Unit 3 was completed on November 4, 2013.[11]

In October 2014, a delay of at least one year and extra costs of $1.2 billion were announced, largely due to fabrication delays. Unit 2 was expected to be substantially complete in late 2018 or early 2019, with unit 3 about a year later.[12]

On July 23rd, 2015, V.C. Summer Unit 2 reached a landmark milestone with the successful placement of the CA-01 module, one of the largest, heaviest, and most complicated modules within the Nuclear Island, also referred to as a super module because it was so large that huge submodules had to be shipped from the manufacturer and final assembly was completed on site in the twelve-story Module Assembly Building. Installation of CA-01 was long delayed due to both regulatory and production hurdles related to the module. It is the first of the US AP1000 reactors under construction to achieve placement of this critical module, beating Vogtle Unit 3 to this milestone, and allowing other construction activities in the Nuclear Island to progress that could not proceed until the module was in place. CA-01 is a large structural module that forms the internal structures of some compartments within the Containment Vessel, including the Steam Generator compartments, Reactor Vessel cavity, and Refueling Canal. The CA-01 Module is the heaviest module on site, weighing 1,200 tons, or 2.4 million pounds. Because of how much it weighs, lifting and placing the CA-01 module into the Unit 2 Nuclear Island resulted in the heaviest lift for the V.C. Summer construction project to date. [13]

Unlike Unit 1, which utilizes a once-through cooling system and discharges its heat directly to the Monticello reservoir, Units 2 and 3 will have cooling towers. The project will be using mechanical-draft multi-cell cooling towers due to their lower visual profile as they are low to the ground compared to the tall natural draft towers used at many nuclear plants with the main drawback being that cell towers take up more ground space and require AC driven fans increasing the total of the plant's own electrical load. The large main cooling towers will cool the Circulating Water System, which removes heat from the main condenser, and serves as the power generation main heat sink while the plant is online. In addition, smaller cooling towers will serve as the heatsink for the Service Water System, which removes the decay heat from the reactor when it is shut down as well as process heat from various large pump motors and other components in the nuclear (primary) side of the plant. None of the cooling towers are safety critical in an AP1000 design, as emergency cooling is provided by very large tanks of water both inside and outside of the containment building, ensuring that the plant can be safely shutdown and cooled for at least 72 hours, with no operator action required, in the highly unlikely event of an accident.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G) will own 60% of the new units, and South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) 40%.[14]

Surrounding population

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.[15]

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Summer was 17,599, an increase of 26.2 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 1,187,554, an increase of 14.3 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Columbia (30 miles to city center).[16]

Seismic risk

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Summer was 1 in 26,316, according to an NRC study published in August 2010.[17][18]

Reactor data

The Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station consists of one operational reactor, with two additional units under construction.

Reactor unit[19] Reactor type Capacity Construction started Electricity grid connection Commercial operation Shutdown
Net Gross
Virgil C. Summer-1[20] Westinghouse 3-Loop 966 MW 1003 MW 1973-03-21 1982-11-16 1984-01-01
Virgil C. Summer-2[21] Westinghouse AP1000 1117 MW 1250 MW 2013-03-09 June 2019[22]
Virgil C. Summer-3 Westinghouse AP1000 1117 MW 1250 MW 2013-11-02 June 2020[22]


  1. "V.C. Summer Nuclear Station", SCANA, retrieved 17 March 2011
  2. "V.C. Summer Nuclear Station Fact Sheet" (PDF). Information. SCE&G. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  3. "V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, Unit 1". Information. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  4. "(Virgil C.) Summer Nuclear Station, South Carolina". United States Energy Information Administration. 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  5. "Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Site, Units 2 and 3 Application". New Reactors. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). February 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  6. "SCE&G & Santee Cooper Announce Contract to Build Two New Nuclear Units". SCANA Press Release. May 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
  7. "Summer time for AP1000". Nuclear Engineering International. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
  8. Wingfield, Brian; Julie Johnsson (30 March 2012). "Scana Receives NRC Approval to Build South Carolina Reactors". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  9. "Scana ends dispute over early nuclear costs". Reuters. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  10. "Construction officially starts at Summer". World Nuclear News. World Nuclear Association. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  11. "Second Summer AP1000 under construction". World Nuclear News. World Nuclear Association. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
  12. "Cost of Summer AP1000s increases". World Nuclear News. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  13. "Landmark module installation at VC Summer". World Nuclear News. 24 July 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  14. "Summer ownership decided". World Nuclear News. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  16. Bill Dedman, Nuclear neighbors: Population rises near US reactors,, April 14, 2011 Accessed May 1, 2011.
  17. Bill Dedman, "What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk,", March 17, 2011 Accessed April 19, 2011.
  19. Power Reactor Information System of the IAEA: „United States of America: Nuclear Power Reactors- Alphabetic“
  20. "Virgil C. Summer-1". Power Reactor Information System. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 12 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  21. "Virgil C. Summer-2". Power Reactor Information System. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 12 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  22. 1 2 "The Public Service Commission of South Carolina Unanimously Approves South Carolina Electric & Gas Company's Petition To Update Construction and Capital Cost Schedules For New Nuclear Units" (PDF). Retrieved 17 November 2015.
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