SCE&G customers would owe another $2.8 billion over the next two decades for a failed nuclear construction project if Virginia-based Dominion Energy buys SCE&G’s parent company.
Those customers already have paid roughly $1.8 billion for a now-abandoned effort to build two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County.
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That $2.8 billion figure, which The State calculated using Dominion’s proposed nuclear rates, is about $7.7 billion less than SCE&G had planned to charge its 700,000 S.C. customers over the next half century for the unfinished reactors.
But it still may be too high for S.C. lawmakers and state regulators who don’t think S.C. power customers should continue to pay for two useless reactors that won’t be finished. The typical customer would pay roughly $4,000 over the next two decades under Dominion’s offer, according to The State’s analysis.
Dominion began to pitch the deal to S.C. utility regulators Thursday.
The utility’s chief executive, Tom Farrell, presented the Fortune 500 company’s $14.6 billion buyout of SCANA as a “very good,” if imperfect, solution to South Carolina’s nuclear fiasco.
“Unfortunately, there’s a choice that has to be made between the status quo and the future,” Farrell told the S.C. Public Service Commission, whose approval is needed to finalize the deal. “Our offer is an effort to relieve as much ... as we can bring to the table. It’s far more than SCANA can bring to the table on its own.
“I know it’s a very difficult choice. It can’t be wished away. It has to be dealt with.”
Farrell noted the deal would refund $1.3 billion that SCE&G customers already have paid toward the project, providing:
▪ About $1,000 per residential customer
▪ As much as $22.2 million for certain industrial customers
▪ Up to $9.8 million for certain state agencies
▪ As much as $197,000 for certain churches
The deal also would cut by $7 a month the amount that the average SCE&G customer now pays for the nuclear project. Dominion plans to continue charging that typical customer $20 a month for the failed V.C. Summer project over the next eight years, then gradually decrease that nuclear surcharge over the next 12 years.
Over the next 20 years, that typical customer would pay about $4,000 for the useless reactors. The same customer would have owed $15,000 over a 50-year span under SCE&G’s plans.
The deal is far from done.
It depends on a number of factors, including state and federal approvals, votes by SCANA and Dominion shareholders, and the actions of state lawmakers who say they have the backs of S.C. power customers.
Farrell said Thursday the deal would be called off if the state Legislature repeals the 2007 law, the Base Load Review Act, that allows SCE&G to charge customers for reactors that have been abandoned. It also could be nixed if the Public Service Commission rules in favor of customers in a pending case that seeks to drop all future nuclear charges, he said.
Executives from Dominion and SCANA presented Dominion’s deal as the best available option in the briefing for PSC members.
No other companies have stepped forward with a proposal to buy SCANA, and the Cayce-based utility’s own offer to cut customers’ bills by $5 a month roundly was dismissed last November, SCANA chief executive Jimmy Addison said.
“It’s the only proposal we’ve received,” Addison said of Dominion.