Dominion Energy’s chief executive said Monday he remains upbeat about his company’s effort to buy Cayce-based SCANA despite criticism that the proposal sells customers short.
In a conference call with securities analysts, Dominion’s Tom Farrell said his utility has filed all the necessary paperwork for S.C. regulatory approvals and has briefed legislators on its plan. The $14.6 billion deal would provide customers of SCANA subsidiary SCE&G with $1,000 rebates, on average, and a $7-a-month cut in their electricity rates.
“We are optimistic that our proposal will be viewed favorably by lawmakers and regulators, and we can complete the transaction later this year,” Farrell said.
Farrell said he expects SCANA shareholders to approve the deal in May.
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Farrell and Mark F. McGettrick, Dominion’s chief financial officer, said Dominion expects its profits to grow from 6 percent to 8 percent until 2020, but that growth would be higher — more than 8 percent — if the SCANA transaction goes through.
“With or without SCANA, we are in terrific position with one of the best growth rates, we believe, in the industry and one of the highest dividend growth rates, as well,” McGettrick said. “But, certainly, SCANA would be a positive result for us.”
Earlier this month, Dominion announced plans to buy SCANA in the wake of the Cayce-headquartered utility’s nuclear construction fiasco.
SCANA and its junior partner, the state-owned Santee Cooper utility, spent $9 billion and a decade trying to build two nuclear reactors to complement an existing reactor in Fairfield County. However, they quit the project July 31, leaving 5,000 people out of work and ratepayers asking whether they would get back the billions they already had paid to finance the project.
S.C. legislators now are considering bills that could force SCANA to pay back much of the money it has collected from ratepayers and end monthly nuclear surcharges. Those proposals would kill the Dominion deal. SCANA also says that likely would drive it into bankruptcy.
Dominion has dangled rebates to SCE&G’s customers to win public support for its SCANA buyout, but many lawmakers have said that does not go far enough.
Dominion, one of the country’s largest energy companies, has utilities in seven states and holdings in 19 states.
It is now building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to carry natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina. Farrell said his company has most of the approvals needed for that project. Dominion previously has said it might be interested in extending the pipeline into South Carolina.
SCANA is the primary power company for Columbia and Charleston. It serves more than 700,000 electrical customers.