In what some see as a pivotal milestone toward consummating the all-stock $15 billion merger of Dominion Energy and troubled SCANA Corp., federal nuclear regulators have approved the transfer of operating licenses for a failed $9 billion South Carolina reactor construction project abandoned by SCANA last year.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the indirect transfer of licenses for the V.C. Summer Unit 1 and combined licenses for Units 2 and 3 from SCANA’s subsidiary, South Carolina Electric & Gas, to Dominion Energy. The transfer was required as part of the merger agreed between Virginia-based Dominion and South Carolina’s SCANA.
SCANA sought financial rescue in merger after SCE&G and partner Santee Cooper abandoned work on the long-delayed Summer units 2 and 3, despite having spent billions of their customers’ money on the project. Several executives with both utilities resigned after the outrage over the abandonment, which was partially blamed on cost overruns and contractor Westinghouse’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
SCE&G last year filed to the NRC for officially terminating the unfinished Summer reactor work, a request which the federal nuclear regulators haven’t acted on yet. Dominion Energy has made no indication of plans to resume the V.C. Summer work.
The NRC’s OK is one of the final approvals needed so Dominion and SCANA can complete the deal. If and when completed, the merged utility would operate in 18 states overall, delivering electricity to 6.5 million customers in eight states and own a generation portfolio totaling 31,400 MW.
The partners hope to close the merger by December. SCE&G customers would get refunds as part of the deal.
State regulators in North and South Carolina still need to review the merger and consider their approval, according to reports.