FAIRFIELD COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Fairfield County's only operating nuclear plant has been taken offline to begin its latest refueling operation.
SCE&G says the outage allows the company to replace fuel assemblies and do preventive maintenance work at the reactor known as VC Summer Unit One.
Meanwhile, work goes on to complete Units Two and Three amid concerns about bankruptcy proceedings involving Westinghouse Nuclear, which has spent years trying to build new reactors in Jenkinsville.
If all goes as had been planned a few months ago, Units 2 and 3 in Jenkinsville would be online around August 2020.
But the financial turmoil around Westinghouse Nuclear, its parent company Toshiba, and the future of nuclear power have raised questions about when those reactors can be completed and when.
The Fairfield Commerce Center is still developing industrial park off I-77 where county officials have been trying to attract industrial clients like the BOMAG company, which is right now the only tenant.
The county has been expecting for years to also be able to depend on the economic benefits that come from construction of the reactors and the permanent jobs created once the reactors are online. It could create 3,000 to 4,000 construction jobs and once finished, around 800 jobs to keep the plants up and running.
Fairfield County Economic Development Director Ty Davenport tells us that even if Westinghouse can't finish the building process, that SCANA and others will have a plan to complete the reactors and deliver those jobs.
"The utility and its partner Santee Cooper say they have an agreement with Westinghouse that allows work to continue and the companies are trying to make it clear they are committed to making the reactors operational," Davenport said.
It's critical for Fairfield County's future because these long-term jobs can pay extremely well, even into the six figures: Jobs the county's Chamber of Commerce has said would lead to a more robust tax base, new home construction, additional business development and even greater tourism.
"There are 800 people out there now that are in training who I anticipate will go to the new plant and those people are still in training out at Number One," Davenport said. "So I think that's good, so we look at that as a positive indicator."