SCANA Corp.’s earnings jumped 10 percent in the July-September period during a hot summer and early fall and continued rate increases to pay for two new nuclear plants.
The Cayce-based energy giant reported earnings of $144 million, or earnings per share of $1.01, for the quarter, up from $131 million, or 94 cents per share for the same period a year ago.
SCANA’s chief subsidiary S.C. Electric & Gas, which serves 686,000 electric customers statewide, is building the nuclear reactors at V.C. Summer nuclear power plant in Fairfield County. The project, originally projected to cost less than $10 billion, now is over budget likely by at least $1 billion and will open later than originally planned. Utility officials still are negotiating with a consortium building the plants on a new time line and budget.
Officials said during a conference call with investors that they cannot predict when the new budget and time line will be finalized, indicating that it could be as late as next year.
The utility has increased rates more than $200 a year since 2008 for the average electric customer to pay for the plants. The S.C. Supreme Court last week ruled that SCE&G was within its rights under the state’s Base Load Review Act to pass along the charges to consumers.
SCANA officials said the utility’s earnings grew this quarter also because of abnormal weather and continued customer growth.
Earnings have been growing throughout the year. Through the first nine months, earnings soared 18 percent to $433 million.