Power company SCE&G has withdrawn its plan to recover nearly $5 billion in costs for its unfinished nuclear reactor through its customers — at least for now.
The utility pulled its petition to the South Carolina Public Service Commission on Tuesday. The request sought permission to recover $4.9 billion in abandonment costs. Revenue would come through a combination of tax deductions, a settlement with lead contractor Westinghouse and $2.2 billion through customers’ bills over the next 60 years.
SCE&G’s holding company SCANA emphasized it still has no plans to restart the V.C. Summer Nuclear Generating project in Fairfield County, but wants to give legislators and Gov. Henry McMaster a chance to decide whether state law needs to change.
“We have been meeting with governmental officials and various stakeholders since our announcement to abandon the new nuclear project,” SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh said in a statement. “The purpose of these ongoing meetings is to discuss their concerns and to explain the path that led us to the abandonment decision.”
Customers have already paid $1.4 billion for the scuttled project through rate increases which now total 18 percent of their monthly bills. The utility had sought permission from the commission to switch those rate increases into abandonment costs. State law allows the transition, but only if the commission deems the costs “prudent.” The commission had planned a meeting this fall to discuss the plan.
Tuesday’s announcement will offer time for state leaders to discuss the future of the project — and what kind of assistance SCE&G and its partner state-owned Santee Cooper should receive as they try to pay off the massive financing costs. Both the state House and Senate have already created special committees to examine what went wrong and whether state law needs to change.
McMaster has proposed selling off Santee Cooper to help recoup some of the utility’s share in the project.