South Carolina bill would cut Scana cost recovery

29 June 2018

Scana Corporation and South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G) are "evaluating their legal options" after the South Carolina General Assembly passed a bill that would reduce the amount SCE&G can recover from its customers in relation to the abandoned VC Summer nuclear power plant construction project. The companies say the proposed legislation is unconstitutional.

Summer unit 2's final containment ring was lifted into place in June 2017 (Image: SCE&G)

The owners of the Summer project - Scana subsidiary SCE&G and Santee Cooper - decided in August last year to abandon the construction of the two AP1000s, following reactor vendor Westinghouse's filing for bankruptcy in March. Scana had sought to recover some of the costs under the terms of the state's Base Load Review Act.

The proposed legislation, which was passed on 27 June, would temporarily reduce the portion of SCE&G's electric rates associated with the VC Summer nuclear construction project from about 18% of the average residential electric customer's bill to about 3.2%, or a reduction of around $31 million per month. This lower rate would be effective until the South Carolina Public Service Commission reaches a decision on a joint petition filed in connection with the proposed merger of Scana with Dominion Energy, announced in January.

"This proposed legislation has been sent to the Governor for signature. If the Governor chooses to veto the legislation, as has been indicated publicly by his staff, it would return to the General Assembly for [it] to consider an override of his veto," Scana said.

Scana yesterday declared an 80% reduction in its quarterly dividend, which it said corresponded to the portion of the dividend attributable to the electric portion of SCE&G. "The board made this reduction to preserve its options as the Company continues to seek a resolution to the recovery of costs for the VC Summer new nuclear construction project," it said.

"The South Carolina Legislature is playing a high-stakes game where they are gambling with the money of customers and taxpayers," Dominion Energy Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell said in response to the vote. "It is a disappointing and short-sighted action that is counter to the best interests of South Carolina and its people," he said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News