Politics & Government

Dominion Energy set to close SCANA buyout, filing says

SCANA Shareholders speak against Dominion sale

SCANA shareholders passed sale to Dominion Energy during a vote of shareholders.
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SCANA shareholders passed sale to Dominion Energy during a vote of shareholders.

Shares of stock in SCANA Corp. will become unavailable for trading on Jan. 2, the surest sign yet that Virginia-based Dominion Energy is on the verge of finalizing its proposed buyout of South Carolina’s largest homegrown, publicly traded power company.

A filing from the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday indicates Dominion expects to seal the deal on Jan. 1.

That would be nearly a year to the day after Dominion announced its agreement to buy SCANA — the Cayce-based power company at the center of a legal and political firestorm over a failed nuclear construction project.

Companies are required to give the NYSE notice of at least three days before closing mergers or acquisitions. The NYSE filing indicates Dominion and SCANA have done that, with SCANA stock set to be delisted on Jan. 2.

Dominion has been expected to close the deal since the S.C. Public Service Commission’s Dec. 14 ruling approving the SCANA buyout. But Dominion has not yet publicly confirmed it will do so, saying it still is reviewing the PSC’s lengthy written ruling.

Environmentalists have filed an appeal of the PSC’s decision, but that appeal is unlikely to derail the buyout.

Dominion announced it planned to buy SCANA on Jan. 3, offering 0.669 shares of Dominion stock for every SCANA share. Based on Dominion’s closing stock price Thursday, the deal valued SCANA shares at about $49. SCANA’s stock closed trading Thursday at $48.78 a share.

Dominion also offered partial refunds and rate cuts for 730,000 customers of SCANA’s electric subsidiary, SCE&G. Together, those customers have paid more than $2 billion in the form of higher power bills for SCE&G’s failed effort to build two additional nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County.

Dominion has amended its offer twice since then.

The latest revision, approved by the PSC this month, would cut the monthly electric bills of SCE&G customers by about $22, on average. However, those customers still will pay about $2.3 billion more — or roughly $5 a month — for the unfinished and abandoned reactors over the next 20 years.

Dominion’s buyout of SCANA will mark an end of an era in S.C. business.

The utility, the largest publicly owned company headquartered in the Midlands, traces its history to the creation of the Charleston Gas Light Co. in the 1840s. The then-Broad River Power Co. changed its name to South Carolina Electric & Gas almost 100 years later. SCANA was formed in 1984 as a utility holding company with SCE&G as its largest subsidiary.

For decades, the utility was one of the most influential companies in South Carolina. However, that influence crumbled in the wake of the V.C. Summer debacle.

The Dominion deal also will change the lives of SCANA’s nearly 6,000 full- and part-time employees.

Dominion Chief Executive Tom Farrell has said “front-line” employees, such as linemen, likely will keep their jobs.

But administrative workers in human resources, customer service, accounting or other white-collar positions could lose their jobs or be relocated. Dominion has said it will pay all of SCANA’s employees through July 1, 2020, even if they are dismissed.

Dominion has pledged to keep SCE&G’s headquarters in Cayce but has not yet named a CEO for its soon-to-be S.C. subsidiary. Farrell has said the job could go to a current SCANA or Dominion employee.

Avery G. Wilks is The State’s senior S.C. State House and politics reporter. He was named the 2018 S.C. Journalist of the Year by the South Carolina Press Association. He grew up in Chester, S.C., and graduated from the University of South Carolina’s top-ranked Honors College in 2015.