Nuclear, O&M

S.C. Governor Tough on SCANA’s Summer Costs, Casting Doubt on Sale

By Editors of Power Engineering

The potential sale of SCANA was thrown into doubt after South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster called for the state-owned utility to absorb the costs of the failed Summer nuclear expansion.

That announcement came after a government audit claimed the company only had a 35 percent chance of being bankrupted by a rate cut, the Post and Courier reported.

McMaster said the state legislature will need to cut nuclear-related rates completely, and plans to veto any related bills that don’t.

SCANA has argued it will need to charge customers $37 million per month for the Summer reactors in order to keep in business, and that the state audit was “severely flawed” and only took a cursory look at its finances.

“It is unfortunate that the ORS report, which is flawed and full of seriously misleading information, could negatively influence the decision makers that so many people are counting on to do what is in our state’s best interest,” company spokeswoman Rhonda O’Banion said in a release. “Setting aside the flaws in the ORS report, a greater than one-in-three chance of bankruptcy is simply too much of a risk to take.”

The company said a write-down could impact SCANA’s ability to borrow money and scare away investors. However, Ellen Lapson, a financial analyst hired by SCANA, said rate cuts alone wouldn’t dry up the company’s credit lines.

SCANA spent $4.7 billion on its effort to build two more reactors at Summer nuclear.

Dominion, which made a $14.6 billion offer to purchase SCANA, plans to abandon the purchase if the company can’t pass on Summer costs to customers.

The Post and Courier said the state legislature could vote on a bill addressing who pays for the Summer expansion as early as next week.