Two former SCANA employees testified Tuesday that their superiors were aware of problems at an ill-fated nuclear project, but intentionally misled regulators and stockholders about those issues.
Carlette Walker, SCANA’s former vice president of nuclear finance administration, testified at a South Carolina Public Service Commission hearing that executives tried to silence her concerns about the VC Summer nuclear expansion project before it failed. She told commissioners she was pushed out of her job for refusing to lie to that same commission “as to the true financial health and construction schedule for the new nuclear deployment… in Jenkinsville.”
Walker called out former SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh for choosing to go with Westinghouse’s cost estimate in 2015. She said SCANA’s own employees suggested the actual cost was likely $500 million more than Westinghouse was forecasting.
Former SCANA engineer Ken Browne testified that he had concerns about the future of the now-abandoned VC Summer project. “As early as late 2012, I began to believe the performance issues that I was seeing had a very real possibility of dooming the project from both the cost and schedule standpoint,” he told commissioners.
SCANA and partner state-owned Santee Cooper decided in late July 2017 to ultimately abandon further work after spending $9 billion combined. The commission will eventually decide how much, if anything, customers should pay to recover the project’s debt. The commission will also determine whether Virginia-based Dominion Energy can purchase SCANA.
For their part, SCANA leaders have insisted they did not mislead regulators and only abandoned the project once it became apparent no other reasonable scenarios existed after lead contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy. They say state regulators at the Office of Regulatory Staff were aware of delays and rising costs. However, ORS maintains SCANA withheld critical documents on the project’s timeline and feasibility.