Cayce-based utility SCANA has reached a $2 billion settlement with customers who sued over high rates to pay for the company’s failed nuclear expansion project.
Under the agreement announced by the company on Saturday, customers will get future rate relief on their power bills to the tune of $2 billion. It would also instead re-route towards customers $115 million in payouts for departing executives and an estimated $70 million from selling off surplus property.
The deal must be signed off by a judge and also hinges on the Public Service Commission (PSC) approving SCANA’s sale to Dominion Energy, which could come in the next few weeks. Dominion has pledged to reduce the average customer’s power bill by $22 per month if the merger is approved.
“In reaching this agreement, we have been able to secure more than $2 billion in relief and accountability for the people of South Carolina,” attorney Pete Strom said in a release.
That $2 billion would roughly offset the amount of ratepayer money which went towards the ill-fated VC Summer nuclear expansion in Fairfield County. SCE&G and its state-owned partner Santee Cooper ultimately abandoned construction of the project last year after lead contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy. The two utilities spent more than $9 billion combined.
Attorney General Alan Wilson signed his approval of the settlement, saying the amount was the largest of its kind in state history. “This milestone ends our pursuit for restitution to ratepayers, but does not end our inquiry into the individual actors that may have contributed to the project’s failure,” Wilson said.
PSC commissioners will ultimately decide how much customers should pay — if anything — towards the project’s debt in the future. A temporary rate set by state legislators this summer reduced the average SCE&G customer’s bill by $15 per month. That temporary rate will expire by late December or once the PSC sets a permanent rate.