How SC’s nuclear project collapsed: A timeline
Virginia-based Dominion Energy again has sweetened its offer for SCANA Corp. in an effort to close on its proposed purchase of the troubled, Cayce-based company.
The new plan, filed with state regulators on Tuesday, features a bigger rate cut for customers of SCE&G, SCANA’s electric subsidiary, than Dominion’s two previous offers.
The proposed 15-percent rate slash also is a hair larger than the temporary cut S.C. lawmakers imposed this year to relieve SCE&G’s customers from continuing to pay high power bills for the utility’s failed nuclear construction project. Dominion and SCE&G previously had said the Legislature’s rate cut was unconstitutional.
SCE&G raised its electric rates nine times over the past decade — to the tune of $27 a month for the average residential customer — to help finance the failed V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion project. That project was abandoned in July 2017 after years of cost overruns and construction delays.
Dominion’s latest offer — subject to approval by the S.C. Public Service Commission — would slash SCE&G’s power bills by about $22 a month for the average customer.
That’s eight cents more than the Legislature’s temporary rate cut, which expires next month, and $1.70 more than Dominion’s previous offer, made in October.
But it does not match the rate cut proposed by the state’s utility watchdog, the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, which alleges SCE&G fraudulently raised its rates for a failing project.
Under Regulatory Staff’s proposal, the typical SCE&G customer would pay about $1,280 more for the abandoned nuclear project over the next 20 years.
Dominion’s latest offer would cost that same customer about $1,600 over the same span. Previous Dominion offers would have cost customers between $1,700 and $3,000.
“The Office of Regulatory Staff has asked for more information about Dominion’s new proposal,” agency spokesman Ron Aiken said.
Dominion’s new offer is the latest in a series of proposed concessions to S.C. lawmakers and state regulators who can effectively veto the company’s buyout of SCANA.
In January, Dominion announced it had agreed to purchase SCANA and offer SCE&G’s electric customers a $10-a-month rate cut and nuclear refunds worth $1,000 per customer. Dominion officials insisted that was its best and final offer for SCANA.
Months later, Dominion made behind-the-scenes overtures to S.C. lawmakers, offering to bump its nuclear refunds to $1,530 per household if the General Assembly agreed to support Dominion’s purchase of SCANA.
Last month, Dominion offered a new deal: It would drop its proposed nuclear refunds and double its proposed rate cut to about $20 a month.
That deal received support from the powerful speaker of the S.C. House, but it did not win over consumer groups, environmentalists and the Office of Regulatory Staff — groups that are pushing to slash SCE&G’s rates even further.
That offer was improved on Tuesday with feedback from stakeholders in the SCE&G rate case, Dominion attorney Joe Reid told the Public Service Commission.
This is a developing story. Check back for more details.