How SC’s nuclear project collapsed: A timeline
About $529 million of the $2 billion that SCE&G customers have paid toward the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project went to shareholders of SCE&G's parent company, SCANA.
The Cayce-based utility's shareholders were paid $120 million last year alone in dividends from the twin-reactor construction project, which was abandoned last July after SCE&G and state-owned Santee Cooper decided it was too costly to complete.
Those figures were included in documents SCANA and Virginia-based Dominion Energy recently provided the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, the state agency charged with reviewing Dominion's offer to buy SCANA.
"This whole story is corporate profiteering over innocent ratepayers," said state Rep. Micah Caskey, a Lexington Republican on the S.C. House committee that investigated the failed Summer project. "I'm almost without words at this point. It's clear that SCANA's only motive through this has been profit. They exploited a system they helped design and create, and they left innocent people without what they were promised."
Those documents show SCANA shareholders' nuclear earnings only rose — to $120 million in 2017 from $3 million in 2009 — as the utility raised its electricity rates nine times to bankroll the effort.
The typical SCE&G residential customer continues to pay about $27 a month in higher power bills for the failed project. Some of that money pays down interest for the project's brick-and-mortar construction costs. But documents show at least a quarter of the money has been earmarked for SCANA shareholders in the form of quarterly dividends.
Last year, more than a third of SCANA's $350 million in dividends stemmed from the construction project.
The S.C. House in January passed a proposal to block SCE&G's continuing $37 million-a-month charges for the failed project, at least until the S.C. Public Service Commission and the courts decide whether those charges should continue.
That plan now is before the slower-moving Senate, which hasn't yet taken it up for debate.
Senators say they aren't happy SCE&G still is charging customers for an abandoned project, but they want to be sure any bill they pass will survive an inevitable court challenge from SCANA.