Gov. Henry McMaster said he has received interest from several out-of-state power companies about the possibility of selling Santee Cooper’s share of an abandoned nuclear project.
Santee Cooper’s board voted last week to no longer pay for any more new construction at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station in Fairfield County. Since the state-owned utility owns a 45 percent stake in the project, its decision prompted lead operator South Carolina Electric & Gas to announce it could no longer afford to finish the project on its own.
“We have a state-owned utility and I have told these companies that it is for sale,” McMaster told reporters after his Wednesday appearance at a new solar power facility ribbon-cutting in Graniteville. “Some or all, everything’s on the table.”
It would require legislative approval to sell off Santee Cooper, which primarily provides power to utilities in the Lowcountry and Pee Dee regions.
The Governor’s Office later told The State newspaper that McMaster had spoken with representatives of Duke Energy, Southern Company, Dominion Energy and others about getting involved in the project.
Those utilities have declined to comment on the conversations. Southern is already mired in its own stalled nuclear construction in Georgia. Duke has taken early steps towards a new reactor near Gaffney, but has not indicated if it will officially pursue the project.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Hartsville, filed a motion with the South Carolina Public Service Commission on Wednesday asking the commission to dismiss a request by SCE&G to recover its abandonment costs through $2.2 billion collected from ratepayers the next 60 years. The Charleston Post & Courier reports the Office of Regulatory Staff, which acts as a customer watchdog, also moved to oppose the request. A 2007 law allows SCE&G to pass on those costs to customers if the PSC deems them “prudent.”
Santee Cooper, as a state entity, does not report to the PSC. Instead any rate decisions would be made by its own board.
Lucas’s filing came the same day he created a new House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee to examine what led to the abandonment after the two utilities spent roughly $10 billion combined on the project and any paths forward.