Making sense of the SC nuclear plant fiasco

As the fallout from the failed nuclear project north of Columbia continues, the amount of information and detail can be overwhelming.

The Count on 2 Investigators want to simplify things for you so that you know who the main players are, when you hear their names for the months to come.

The two primary companies involved are SCANA, and Santee Cooper.

SCANA is the parent company of South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G). They’re also the controlling partner in the deal to build the two nuclear reactors at the VC Summer Nuclear plant in Jenkinsville, SC. Scana’s CEO is Kevin Marsh.

Their partner in the deal, Santee Cooper, is a state-owned power company. The fallout from the project failure already cost CEO Lonnie Carter his job. His replacement in the interim, is James Brogdon.

In 2008, SCANA and Santee Cooper signed a deal with Westinghouse Construction Group, which is owned by TOSHIBA, to build those reactors. It’s a company that lawmakers say had not built a nuclear plant in the US in 30 years. On top of that, the design had never been tried before.

The initial cost of the project was $9.8B, now SCE&G says that estimate to finish it is closer to $14B.

 

To pay for the reactors, the Public Service Commission approved nine rate hikes for SCE&G, two of them after lawmakers say the utilities knew the project could not be finished. Today, 18% of your SCE&G bill is paying for a project that is dead in the water, as they collect $37M each month from customers.

Santee Cooper raised rates five times since 2009 to pay its share of the project, costing customers $540M.

Despite knowing there were major problems as early as 2012, SCANA, and Santee Cooper didn’t pull the plug until July of 2017. They really didn’t have a choice when Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy.

 

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