Reports: NextEra leading contender to buy Santee Cooper
NextEra Energy is planning a “substantial offer” to buy Santee Cooper, the state-owned South Carolina utility that is one of the partners in the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear power project, The Post and Courier reports.
Duke Energy and Southern Co. have submitted informal bids, and Dominion Energy is expected to present a proposal within weeks, an unidentified source told the media outlet.
Interest in Santee Cooper could be muted until South Carolina regulators rule on whether South Carolina Electric & Gas, the majority owner of the Summer nuclear project, can charge customers for the failed project.
In the weeks after Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the Summer nuclear project, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said he would put the state-owned utility up for sale. The utility carries about $8 billion in debt, about half of which is related to the failed nuclear project.
Spiraling costs for the project stemmed from the bankruptcy of the project's main contractor, Westinghouse Electric, which pushed Santee Cooper to abandon the project in August. Santee Cooper owns 45% of the Summer project and the remainder of the project is owned by SCANA’s SCE&G, which quickly followed suit in abandoning the project.
SCE&G, unlike Santee Cooper, is subject to state regulation. State regulators are scheduled to decide how to handle the SCE&G’s costs related to Summer on Dec. 12.
In October, local media reports named NextEra as one of the utilities interested in buying Santee Cooper. Media outlets also mentioned other regional utilities, such as Duke and Dominion, as possible bidders. Pending regulatory matters, such as whether or not SCE&G can charge customers for the failed project, continue to hang over the project, as well as the fate of Santee Cooper.
A call to NextEra for comment was not returned by press time.
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