Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter stepped down Friday amid turmoil over the state-owned electricity supplier’s decision earlier this month to abandon the beleaguered V.C. Summer nuclear project.
Carter’s replacement has yet to be named, but a search is underway for an interim CEO, Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore, told Utility Dive.
- Efforts to sell the utility’s stake in the Summer project are ongoing, and the utility is working with the governor’s office on efforts to sell that asset or any other assets, Gore said.
When Santee Cooper’s board decided late last month to abandon the V.C. Summer nuclear project, they set off a chain of events. First, it forced the hand of Santee’s partner in the project, SCANA Corp. subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas, into also abandoning the project. Second, it appears to have propelled the retirement of Santee's CEO.
A key factor in SCE&G’s decision was Santee Cooper’s inability to find a party willing to buy out its stake in the Summer project. In the wake of the abandonment notice, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said the state is seeking a new owner for Santee Cooper. A local news report said that effort is still under way.
Santee Cooper’s original cost estimate for its 45% share of the project was $5.12 billion, amended to $6.2 billion in 2016. At the end of July Santee Cooper said it had spent $4.7 billion on the project, and that it would cost another $11.4 billion to finish.
Carter’s interim replacement is expected to be named in one to three weeks, said Gore. A more lengthy process is also being initiated to find a permanent CEO, but that is expected to take six to nine months, she said.