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Cost of reactors could increase

COLUMBIA — A South Carolina agency reported Wednesday that the cost of two nuclear reactors could rise by more than $500 million because of inflation in construction costs, though officials called it a high-end estimate.

Though environmentalists call the review by the Office of Regulatory Staff disturbing, agency executive director Dukes Scott said the increase is "not a call for alarm or panic."

According to the report, South Carolina Electric & Gas Co.'s budget for the reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville increased from

$6.3 billion to nearly $6.9 billion. The state's largest private utility is required to adjust the estimated cost quarterly using a five-year inflation average.

Mr. Scott and an SCE&G spokesman attribute the increase to unusually high construction costs over the past five years.

If the latest economic conditions continue, SCE&G's overall costs could stay at or below the $6.3 billion estimate, according to the report. The forecast cost would have gone down had the report used a 10-year or one-year average for construction costs, Mr. Scott said.

$530,000 raised so far for DeMint re-election

COLUMBIA — South Carolina's junior U.S. senator, Jim DeMint, reported Wednesday that he has raised nearly $533,000 for his 2010 re-election campaign.

Mr. DeMint's campaign said it had $2.6 million on hand at the end of the second quarter .

"What's really fueling things here is just growing alarm about the direction the new administration the Democratic majority are taking this country," Mr. DeMint said in a telephone interview.

Mr. DeMint has no announced GOP challenger.

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