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South Carolina Utility Expects Customers Will Pay $2.2 Billion for Company’s Abandoned Nuclear Project

August 17, 2017

Charleston Post and Courier:

South Carolina Electric & Gas isn’t sure when it will move forward with a plan to charge customers for its scuttled nuclear construction project, but executives made clear to investors that the power company would do so eventually.

Kevin Marsh, the chief executive of SCE&G parent SCANA Corp., told Wall Street analysts Wednesday that the utility “didn’t draw any lines in the sand” with lawmakers about how long it would wait before moving to formally ditch its effort to expand the V.C. Summer power plant.

Marsh’s comments came the day after SCE&G decided it would hold off on asking state regulators for permission to charge ratepayers $2.2 billion for the project. Its customers have already paid about $1.4 billion for two half-built reactors near Columbia.

The decision to delay its request came as SCE&G was facing rising pressure from lawmakers who vowed to investigate the failed project and said the company was moving too fast. By pulling its request, the company essentially bought the Legislature time to decide what to do about the reactors.

“We want to give them time to complete their process. We have discussed that there would be a time in the future that we would need to refile,” Marsh told analysts. “We didn’t draw any lines in the sand. We didn’t want to get out in front of them.”

SCE&G initially filed its plans to charge customers for the project two weeks ago, shortly after announcing it was walking away from the reactors. Regulators only had six months to consider the proposal, meaning lawmakers would have little time to work when they reconvened in January.

The General Assembly will start to look into the project next week when a pair of committees meets to hold their first hearings on the demise of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion. Lawmakers have formed two special panels devoted to the project, and a separate regulatory committee is looking into it, too.

Still, it’s not clear that Wall Street expects much to change when SCE&G files its request to raise electricity rates again. SCANA’s stock closed essentially unchanged Wednesday, suggesting that investors didn’t see any new risks on the horizon, even if a long review was on the way.

More: SCE&G will ask to charge customers for abandoned nuclear project, but it’s not sure when

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