S.C. ratepayers could recover $1 billion from the sale of parts sitting idle and in danger of deteriorating at the V.C. Summer nuclear site, a state senator said Thursday.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, has filed legislation to ensure the site’s unfinished reactor-containment buildings are protected and kept in good condition for sale or in case the project ever is finished.
His proposal also seeks to take possession of upwards of $1 billion in assets sitting on the site, most paid for by SCE&G ratepayers and the state of South Carolina, via its ownership of the the Santee Cooper utility, Summer site’s 45 percent owner.
Davis said assets include:
▪ Four steam generators in storage valued at $70 million each, or a total of $280 million
▪ Three reactor cooler pump motors valued at $20 million each, or a total of $60 million
▪ Four emergency diesel generators valued at $15 million each, or a total of $60 million
▪ Two integrated reactor heads valued at $100 million each, or a total of $200 million
S.C. ratepayers already have paid more than $2 billion in higher electricity rates for the project.
“It’s beyond me why we’re several months into this endeavor now and no other bill has been filed that seeks to secure those assets and protect them for the people of South Carolina,” Davis said.
Last fall, lawmakers learned SCE&G’s corporate parent SCANA, which owns 55 percent of the Summer project, had not covered or maintained equipment at the Fairfield County construction site.
Instead, that equipment has been left exposed to the elements, potentially losing value, Davis said Thursday.
SCANA and state-owned Santee Cooper stopped construction at the site July 31, after spending $9 billion in an effort to build two new reactors. The utilities cited construction delays and cost overruns for abandoning the project. They blamed the project’s failure on its lead contractor, Westinghouse, which declared bankruptcy last March.
However, Westinghouse now could claim many of the site’s assets, Davis warned senators Thursday.
“The strongest claims (on the assets) are the ratepayers of South Carolina that gave money for this equipment to be purchased,” he said. “Their interests need to be looked out for.”
The parts – sitting in warehouses or in the open – were to be used to complete the unfinished reactors. More than 90 percent are owned by the state, said state Sen. Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield.
“There’s about two options with this site to make ratepayers whole: either give them the reactors they paid for working, or we could get some money back (by selling equipment) and return it (to ratepayers),” Fanning said.
Preserving the site could cost up to $15 million a year, officials estimate. With SCANA saying it is through with the site, that cost could fall on Santee Cooper.
Gov. Henry McMaster called Wednesday for Santee Cooper to “immediately intervene” before the state Public Service Authority to try to mitigate damage to the valuable equipment on the Summer site.
“Although I had hoped that Santee Cooper and SCANA could resolve these issues by agreement, recent correspondence appears to indicate that these negotiations are at an impasse,” McMaster wrote to William Finn, Santee Cooper’s acting chairman.
McMaster asked for a response from Santee Cooper by Monday.
Santee Cooper is reviewing the governor’s letter, spokesperson Mollie Gore.
Senate defers action on delaying Dominion deal
By a 38-3 vote Thursday, the state Senate deferred action on a proposal to block a state commission from approving Dominion Energy’s proposed buyout of Cayce-based SCANA until February 2019.
Dominion made its buyout offer last month in the wake of the V.C. Summer debacle. It has promised to give $1,000 refunds to customers of SCANA’s SCE&G subsidiary and cut their electric rates.
Senators are proposing requiring the Public Service Commission to delay approving that buyout, saying lawmakers need more time to consider how it would affect the state.