SCANA Corp. said Wednesday that its board of directors is delaying a decision on whether the Cayce-based utility will pay its quarterly dividend.
Since last July's collapse of a decade-long, $9 billion effort to build two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County, SCANA's dividends have become a lightening rod for criticism.
SCANA continues to charge its customers $27 a month, on average, to pay for that failed nuclear project, the company then turns over much of that money to its shareholders in the form of dividends.
S.C. lawmakers have complained bitterly the utility should discontinue its dividend and redirect that money to lowering the monthly electric bills of the 700,000-plus customers of SCANA's SCE&G subsidiary.
SCANA shares dropped slightly in early trading Wednesday, falling to $35.19. . However, those shares recovered to close at $35.88, up 24 cents.
In its first-quarter earnings report, SCANA hinted it might discontinue its dividend, which supports the utility's embattled stock price. The dividend would have been paid on July 1 to investors holding shares in the company as on June 11.
"These dates no longer apply," the company said in a news release Wednesday. "If dividends are declared, the ... payment dates will be adjusted accordingly."
After the V.C. Summer project's collapse, Richmond-based Dominion Energy announced a buyout of SCANA, offering two-thirds of a Dominion share for every SCANA share an investor owns.
SCANA said Tuesday that its shareholders would meet July 31 in Columbia to vote on whether to approve the Dominion buyout.
That buyout offer — also contingent on regulatory approval, and legislators or regulators not ordering SCANA to lower its rates — currently values SCANA shares at about $43 a share. That is far below the stock's 52-week high of $71.28.