Friday, April 14, 2017

How a S.C. nuclear power plant project could affect the chips in your iPhone

Apple's Nuclear Option

Posted by Sam Spence on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 3:07 PM

click to enlarge The V.C. Summer nuclear plant's expansion in Jenkinville, outside Columbia, has been underway for years - SCE&G FILE PHOTO
  • SCE&G file photo
  • The V.C. Summer nuclear plant's expansion in Jenkinville, outside Columbia, has been underway for years
What happens next on a troubled power plant project in Jenkinville, S.C. could affect not only the prospects of American nuclear energy, but also the chips inside your iPhones.

The parent company of SCE&G and Santee Cooper are working together on one of two active nuclear power plant projects in the nation, that's notable enough by itself. But the project has hit repeated delays and while costs are currently approved up to $14 billion, that price keeps rising, with officials warning of another $1.5 billion in overruns just this week. Morgan Stanley reportedly projects the final bill will be around $22 billion. SCE&G has raised rates nine times since 2009 to pay for the project, a move that state lawmakers approved 10 years ago with the Base Load Review Act.

The ballooning costs of the project have put the project's main contractor Westinghouse, a subsidiary of Toshiba, in dire financial straits. The company filed for bankruptcy protection last month and now Toshiba says it may not survive. Apple, which buys chips for its iPhone from Toshiba, said today that it is working to piece together a deal to help the parent company stay afloat and keep its supply chain intact.

The iPhone is Apple's top-selling device by far, and it's bought semiconductor manufacturers before, so when you see the news about South Carolina's nuclear prospects rising due to an influx of cash in the next few weeks, you may be able to thank Apple.

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