Published on POWER Magazine

If you have paid any attention to nuclear power plant construction projects over the years, you know that there is a long history of cost overruns and schedule delays on many of them. In fact, many nuclear power plants that were planned in the 1960s and 1970s were never completed, even after millions (or billions) of dollars were spent on development. As POWER previously reported, by 1983, several factors including project management deficiencies prompted the delay or cancellation of more than 100 nuclear units planned in the U.S.—nearly 45% of total commercial capacity previously ordered.

More recent projects have not fared any better. In July 2017, SCANA Corp. and Santee Cooper abandoned construction of Units 2 and 3 at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in South Carolina. The project was estimated to be about 64% complete at the time. Santee Cooper—South Carolina’s largest public power provider—said the decision was based “in large part on a comprehensive analysis of detailed schedule and cost data.” Santee Cooper said it had spent approximately $4.7 billion in construction and interest at that point in time for its 45% share of the nuclear power project. “The analysis shows the project would not be finished until 2024, four years after the most recent completion date provided by Westinghouse, and would end up costing Santee Cooper customers a total of $11.4 billion,” it said, noting that schedule delays increased the projected interest costs by 143% over the original plan.

To hear the full interview with Zabelle, which contains more about construction projects he’s been involved in, lessons he’s learned over the years, the history behind current construction management processes, challenges and benefits of modular construction techniques, and more, listen to The POWER Podcast. Click on the SoundCloud player below to listen in your browser now or use the following links to reach the show page on your favorite podcast platform:


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PPI works to increase the value Engineering and Construction provides to the economy and society. PPI researches and disseminates knowledge related to the application of Project Production Management (PPM) and technology for the optimization of complex and critical energy, industrial and civil infrastructure projects.