The nearly $15 billion proposed merger between Dominion Energy and financially troubled SCANA Corp. got another positive push Tuesday when it was announced that SCANA shareholders have approved the union.
The shareholder OK-representing more than two-thirds of outstanding shares-follows approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this month for the combination of the Virginia-based Dominion and South Carolina-based SCANA into one utility giant. The merger still needs further state and nuclear regulatory approvals.
“We are pleased with the approval from our shareholders,” Maybank Hagood, SCANA’s chairman of the board, said in a statement. “We believe the merger with Dominion Energy offers the most comprehensive solution for our customers and aligns SCANA with a company that mirrors our commitment to delivering safe and reliable energy.”
South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., a SCANA subsidiary, and state-owned utility Santee Cooper spent more than $9 billion before abandoning construction on a pair of nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia last year. State and federal authorities are probing the failure, and irate customers have filed lawsuits accusing SCANA of misleading the public during the troubled project’s tenure.
Some have worried the merger could be scuttled by lawmakers’ removal of a surcharge SCE&G customers have been paying toward the company’s debt on the two unfinished reactors. SCE&G customers have paid around $2 billion toward the failed project, about $22 a month for the average user.
Lawmakers this year removed most of that charge, cutting SCE&G’s electric rates by 15 percent until the end of this year, after which regulators will set a permanent rate. Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed the bill, saying he favored cutting the entire charge. House and Senate members overrode his veto of the rate cut in just minutes.
SCE&G has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the rate cut. Dominion has offered rebates of around $1,000 to SCE&G customers, a smaller cut in rates and a promise not to raise rates for three years.
If approved, the combined Dominion-SCANA utility would deliver energy to approximately 6.5 million customers. The merged generation portfolio would total close to 31,400 MW with 93,600 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines as well as 106,400 miles of natural gas pipelines.