S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster on Wednesday joined his Democratic challenger, state Rep. James Smith of Columbia, in criticizing SCANA for setting aside $110 million in severance pay for utility executives.
Lawyers on Monday told a federal judge that SCANA, the parent company of SCE&G, had set aside $110 million to pay its executives if they lose their jobs in a buyout of the Cayce-based utility by Virginia-based Dominion Energy.
SCANA shareholders voted Tuesday against paying that severance money. But that vote was nonbinding and the severance pay, including in contracts, is likely to be paid out if the Dominion deal goes through.
“I think that is not a good corporate decision, and I think the decision of the shareholders was the better decision,” McMaster said Wednesday. “The people of the state, particularly under these circumstances, are rightly concerned — and some are highly angry — over ... the use of that money.”
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SCANA has been criticized for its excessive executive pay and bonuses while those leaders failed to properly oversee the construction of two nuclear power reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. That project was abandoned a year ago after a decade of work and $9 billion in costs.
SCE&G ratepayers already have paid more than $2 billion toward the cost of the two unfinished reactors.
Rep. Smith, the Democratic nominee for governor, reacted to news of the severance packages Monday, saying, “All of the executives getting this golden parachute should resign immediately.”
“This money should instead be going into a fund that provides relief to the ratepayers. They’re the ones who deserve it,” Smith said.
Smith also called on McMaster to give back campaign contributions from SCANA and its executives. SCANA bundled at least $115,000 in contributions to McMaster from the utility, its political action committee and employees in the weeks before it walked away from the nuclear project.
“For McMaster to compare those contributions to the more than $100,000 he has received from SCANA executives and board members is laughable,” Warthen said.