Politics & Government

Duke won’t help restart VC Summer nuclear project

Duke Energy will not save the mothballed V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project, the Charlotte-based power company said Friday.

“The project is far too expensive, and the uncertainties around the ultimate completion and operation are far too great for us to accept on behalf of our customers and owners,” Duke spokesman Ryan Mosier wrote in an email.

“We did not arrive at this decision lightly. We recognize the impact the V.C. Summer cancellation has on the state of South Carolina.”

The decision is a blow to S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s efforts to revive the long-delayed and over-budget Fairfield County project.

Duke was one of three power companies the Richland Republican initially contacted about buying out state-owned Santee Cooper’s 45 percent ownership stake in the project.

However, McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes downplayed Duke's decision, saying the Charlotte utility was just one company the governor is talking with.

Symmes added the number of potential buyers that McMaster is negotiating with has "greatly expanded" from the original three. He would not say how many parties currently are negotiating with the governor's office.

In July, after spending nine years and more than $9 billion on construction, Santee Cooper and Cayce-based SCE&G said they would abandon completing two nuclear reactors near Jenkinsville.

While S.C. House and Senate panels investigate the failure, McMaster’s office has focused on reviving the project. McMaster also has proposed selling Santee Cooper itself.

McMaster’s office confirmed Thursday that some parties potentially interested in acquiring Santee Cooper have signed nondisclosure agreements, which could mean talks are becoming serious.

The agreements, McMaster’s office added, are standard practice for parties entering negotiations on large deals.

Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks