Shuttered nuclear site needs maintenance, SC governor says

S.C. Governor Henry McMaster
S.C. Governor Henry McMaster

Gov. Henry McMaster said Tuesday that maintenance is needed for nuclear reactor parts sitting at SCE&G’s failed V.C. Summer expansion site in case a utility wants to revive the project one day.

“We are not going to allow those facilities, the work that has been done, to fall into disrepair,’’ the governor said during a news conference. “It’s going to have to be maintained.’’

McMaster made his remarks less than a week after executives with SCANA, SCE&G’s parent corporation, told state regulators they would stop maintaining the site by year’s end. The company is trying to gain a $2 billion federal tax break that could hinge on whether SCANA formally abandons the project.

McMaster did not say who should maintain the Fairfield County site. Asked if state-owned Santee Cooper should do that, he said, “The better course would be for Santee Cooper to be sold.’’

Santee Cooper, SCE&G’s junior partner in the nuclear fiasco, has been mentioned as the most likely company to continue the site’s maintenance, which could cost $15 million a year.

Nextera of Florida, Duke Energy of North Carolina, Dominion Energy of Virginia and the Southern Co. of Georgia all have written letters to McMaster’s office saying they are interested in buying Cooper. But it is unknown if any deal is likely, given Santee Cooper’s financial troubles as a result of the nuclear plant failure.

Construction at the V.C. Summer project site was about a third complete when SCANA and Santee Cooper announced July 31 they were walking away from the project after spending $9 billion over a decade. Most of the components needed to build the reactors are at the site.

The shut down of the project left more than 5,000 people out of work and customers irate that they had been charged $1.7 billion by SCE&G for two nuclear reactors that wouldn’t be built.