Newly-revealed emails show South Carolina regulators were concerned about the future of a failed nuclear reactor project even years before it was shut down.
According to The State newspaper, the VC Summer nuclear expansion project was experiencing so many hurdles and delays that inspectors considered it possible that the project would not be finished in time to qualify for $2 billion in federal tax credits critical to help finance the construction. Members of the Office of Regulatory Staff reached the realization in 2016.
The agency released the records this week, showing proof they knew the extent of the problems and were communicating with SCANA and state-owned Santee Cooper. The agency had previously said it was not allowed to see an audit commissioned by SCANA which revealed extensive problems on the project even before lead contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy.
State lawmakers said that regulators should have conveyed that information to them.
If the nuclear expansion project in Fairfield County had been on schedule the federal credits could have been part of the financing in the construction of the reactors. That financing currently costs each SCANA customer $27 per month.
In June 2016, state regulators told SCANA they were certain that at least one of the two reactors would not be completed by the 2020 deadline. Those officials even had reservations the other reactor could be completed.
SCANA stopped the project after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March and partner Santee Cooper pulled out four months later. The utilities reasoned costs and delays would spiral even further out of control without an established contractor.