S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster is asking Santee Cooper for any information that might facilitate the sale of the state-owned utility or its stake in two unfinished nuclear reactors.
McMaster asked Santee Cooper’s board for the information this week, citing “a number of entities” that have expressed an interest in buying the unfinished reactors at Fairfield County’s V.C. Summer plant or Santee Cooper itself, one of the state’s biggest utilities.
“Although this process may be challenging, it is not nearly as difficult as the situation facing South Carolina workers and ratepayers,” McMaster said in the letter to Santee Cooper chairman Leighton Lord, a Columbia attorney.
McMaster did not say name any potential buyers interested in buying Santee Cooper or its share of the two reactors, abandoned in the middle of construction after a contractor went bankrupt. However, the Republican governor previously has said he has talked with Charlotte-based Duke Energy, Richmond-based Dominion Energy of Virginia and the Atlanta-based Southern Co.
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In the wake of the Fairfield debacle, McMaster has talked openly about selling Santee Cooper, formed by the state in 1934 to electrify rural South Carolina. The company provides power to about 2 million S.C. residents, and owns lakes Marion and Moultrie.
Alternately, Santee Cooper could sell its 45 percent ownership stake in the Summer plant, a joint project with investor-owned SCE&G.
This week, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said he had advised McMaster to sell Santee Cooper if its sale would help restart construction of the Summer reactors. “I don’t want to pay for a hole in the ground.”
The two reactors have been under construction for nine years. Even after the project shut down, S.C. power customers still could foot their multi-billion-dollar cost.