After a failed expansion at the VC Summer nuclear station in Fairfield County, South Carolina political leaders are discussing the sale of the project’s minority partner state-owned Santee Cooper. But majority owner SCANA, parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas, could also be facing a sale as its stock plummets.
University of South Carolina professor Conor Harrison told South Carolina Radio Network each sale would be different since one utility is owned by the state. “An obligation to the state to try and serve the state to the best of its ability, whereas SCANA is required to serve their shareholders,” he said.
Harrison said that, in the case of SCANA’s acquisition by a company such as Charlotte-based Duke Energy, the project’s debt must be taken into account. “The only way I think that Duke would step in and make a purchase is if they do it on the right terms.”
Santee Cooper and SCANA decided in July they were not capable to complete the behind-schedule and over-budget expansion, particularly after its lead contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy.
The State newspaper reports Gov. Henry McMaster and legislative leaders disagree on how Santee Cooper should be sold. Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, and House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Hartsville, have hired a consulting firm ICF International to appraise the company. But McMaster is pushing instead for an investment bank he says has experience with power utilities.
Legislators have criticized the governor’s preference for Moelis & Company, which counts former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor among its executives. But the newspaper reports the governor submitted a letter arguing ICF does not normally perform appraisals of utilities such as Santee Cooper.