State-owned power utility Santee Cooper is suing its partner in a failed South Carolina nuclear project.
The lawsuit claims South Carolina Electric & Gas committed civil fraud and misconduct that caused $9 billion to ultimately be wasted on the ill-fated VC Summer nuclear expansion before both utilities abandoned work last year. Santee Cooper owned 45 percent of the project, which accounts for nearly half of its $8 billion overall debt.
The State newspaper on Friday reported the lawsuit, which accuses SCE&G of “dishonesty, bad faith, unfair dealing and the unlawful appropriation of Santee Cooper’s money by design.”
State regulators approved SCE&G’s sale to Virginia-based Dominion Energy last month.
Santee Cooper has tried to distance itself with construction problems after the project’s collapse and resulting public outcry, although its former CEO Lonnie Carter and chairman Leighton Lord resigned in the months afterward. Santee Cooper executives have insisted SCE&G did not properly manage delays and cost overruns as lead contractor Westinghouse struggled to stay within the project’s timeline. Westinghouse ultimately filed for bankruptcy, largely due to its nuclear work.
The Moncks Corner-based utility stated that it sought more independent engineers and construction consultants after a 2016 audit found serious issues which threatened the project’s future. But the lawsuit insists SCE&G did not act on its requests. That audit, subsequently known as the “Bechtel report” was kept confidential until Gov. Henry McMaster ordered Santee Cooper to turn it over to his office last year.
A spokesman for SCE&G’s parent company SCANA told the newspaper that Santee Cooper was well aware of the project’s problems and delays and shared equal blame for the project’s management.