As some may remember from the 1960s an old saying "What if they gave a War, and nobody came?" Today, we can rephrase that for the South Texas Nuclear Project's proposed expansion as "What if they wanted to build a new nuclear power plant, and nobody invested?" The city of San Antonio is scheduled to vote on their level of participation in the STNP expansion, with the date presently set for October 13. This date keeps getting pushed back, so we shall see. The topic is wildly controversial, with very few people trusting or believing the nuclear advocates who insist that the plant can be built for only $13 billion, and be producing power four years after start of construction. My assessment, published in comments to various articles at mysanantonio.com, is that the expansion will cost at least $22 billion, and require 10 years or more to produce power. It is more likely to cost $25 billion.
As background, the City of San Antonio already owns 40 percent of the existing twin-reactor STNP, with the City of Austin owning 20 percent. It is quite instructive that the City of Austin this time declined to be a party to the STNP expansion. Austin learned its lesson quite well in the original fiasco, in which the nuclear proponents for STNP stated the plant would only cost $900 million, yet its final cost was $5.4 billion, for a cost over-run of $4.5 billion or six times the original estimate. There is no recent experience in the United States, but the new Generation III nuclear plant presently being built in Finland is billions of Euros over-budget, and so far behind schedule (it was to be started up by now, 2009), that the builder cannot provide an end date to the construction at this time. What an industry - who can trust the promoters? Their track record is horrendous.
A bit earlier in the comments, "crosspatch" offered that the modern Generation III nuclear power plants are much less costly due to a simpler design, which uses what he referred to as "the same technology that makes toilets work" or float valves. That hardly gives one a good feeling that the plant will actually operate safely. Float valves are notoriously unreliable - has anyone ever had to repair one of these on a toilet? Here is crosspatch's comment, and my reply.