Highlights from the NUPIC 2017 Vendor Meeting

The 26th Annual NUPIC Vendor Meeting was held June 21st and 22nd at the Hilton Riverside New Orleans and hosted by Entergy.  This was Alden’s 4th time attending the event. (See last year’s blog post for more information about the NUPIC organization.)  The meeting is an important opportunity for utility auditors and representatives to meet with suppliers outside of a NUPIC audit.  As Oscar Limpias, the VP of Nuclear Oversight at Entergy noted in his keynote address, “vendor performance and the partnership between vendors and utilities is critical to the future of nuclear generation”.

A variety of topics were presented, including decommissioning, new plant construction, small modular reactors, equipment reliability, commercial grade dedication (CGD) and the revised CGD guidance, cyber-security considerations for suppliers, counterfeit items and delivering the nuclear promise. Copies of the presentations can be found on the NUPIC website. 

A common theme throughout the two days was the current state of nuclear power and its future.  While NUPIC, itself, saves each utility an estimated $1 million per year, there are more opportunities to reduce cost in relation to NUPIC and vendor interfacing.  The average cost for generating nuclear power in 2016 was $34 per MWh (down from a peak of $40 per MWh in 2012).  Of this price, approximately $6 is the cost of fuel and $28 is the people and support systems.  In order for nuclear to remain competitive with highly subsidized renewables and low-cost natural gas, the goal is to reduce the cost to $28 per MWh by 2020.  This will be accomplished through the Delivering the Nuclear Promise initiative and the issued efficiency bulletins, which are the implementation of the initiative.  All of the efficiency bulletins issued to date can be found on the NEI website. The four bulletins that currently relate to NUPIC and suppliers are EB 16-28a (Minimize NUPIC Vendor Audit Frequencies), EB 16-28b (Establish Common Finding/Deficiency Definitions Used During Vendor Audits), EB 16-29 (Optimize Strategic Sourcing to Deliver Savings), and EB 16-30 (Material Cost Reduction While Maintaining Quality).  NUPIC is also considering additional savings possibilities such as graded scope audits, standardized purchase orders, reducing utility intervention in manufacturing and services and enhanced auditor training.  For more information, refer to Day 1 presentations presented by Brian Mervak, NUPIC Chair, SCE&G, and David Kimball, Director of Nuclear Oversight at Cooper Nuclear Station, and Day 2 presentations by Mark Mlachak, QA Manager, First Energy Nuclear Operating Company, and John Simmons, Consulting Nuclear Auditor, Luminant Power.

The annual vendor dinner and social is always a highlight of the meeting.  This year it was a dinner cruise aboard the Creole Queen Riverboat.  We were treated to a creole buffet dinner with a lively jazz band and gorgeous views of the city (see photos below).  As always, it was a very good meeting with a nice balance between informative presentations and networking between quality assurance professionals from utilities and nuclear suppliers.  As Jeff Perry, Senior Project Manager, TVA, stated in his presentation on Small Modular Reactors, “QA in nuclear construction will make the difference between a project that is successful and one that is not.”  An efficient and effective quality program including a robust corrective action program is of utmost importance throughout the supply chain.

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