Georgia regulators approve Dominion-SCANA merger
- The Georgia Public Service Commission unanimously approved the merger of Dominion Energy and SCANA Corp. Wednesday, making it the first state regulatory body to greenlight the deal.
- Dominion officials called the approval "an important step" in the merger process, but the hardest sells may still be ahead. The merger will still need consent from South Carolina, where lawmakers have raised potential barriers, along with regulators in North Carolina and at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
- In South Carolina, a key issue is whether SCANA will be allowed to recover costs associated with the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project. Lawmakers are considering whether to revoke payments under the Baseload Review Act, passed a decade ago to help pay for the project.
Dominion's bid for SCANA still has a long road ahead, but officials are celebrating Georgia's approval while still holding firm that they can complete the deal this year.
Dominion Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell II said the company looks forward to "receiving the additional required regulatory approvals and completing our transaction by the end of this year."
Along with the Georgia PSC, the companies need sign-off from regulators in the Carolinas and authorization of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. SCANA shareholders must also approve the merger.
The Federal Trade Commission has already granted early termination under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. The combined company would boast 6.5 million customers, a generating portfolio of about 31.4 GW, and more than 90,000 miles of power lines, and significant gas assets.
But in South Carolina, SCANA's failed V.C. Summer nuclear project has put the deal at risk. Dominion has indicated it will not go through with the merger unless SCANA can recover billions in costs associated with the project. The company is due payments under the Baseload Review Act, but lawmakers have been discussing repealing the law, and Gov. Henry McMaster (R) says he would sign the legislation.
SCANA abandoned construction of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant, having already spent $9 billion. The plant was originally estimated to cost less than $12 billion, but mismanagement and problems with the reactor design from contractor Westinghouse raised final cost estimates to $25 billion.
SCANA is now facing lawsuits and an inquiry into whether it misled shareholders about the project. Its partner, state-owned utility Santee Cooper, could be sold to help pay for the plant. Last month a group of electric cooperatives sued state-owned utility Santee Cooper to block it from charging more for its share of the $9 billion in costs related to the nuclear project.
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