SCE&G, Santee Cooper face more litigation over Summer nuclear project abandonment
South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) is facing a second lawsuit over its plan to abandon construction of the V.C. Summer nuclear power project in Fairfield County, S.C., at the end of July.
In a lawsuit filed on Monday, Fairfield County residents accused SCE&G and SCANA, its parent company, of fraud and negligence, according to The Post and Courier.
- The class action suit is the second complaint filed against SCE&G regarding the Summer project. Customers of Santee Cooper, SCE&G’s partner in the nuclear project, have also filed a suit regarding the project.
In mid-August, SCE&G ratepayers filed a lawsuit alleging that SCE&G mismanaged more than $1 billion in customer funds on the Summer nuclear project. The suit claims the utility hid financial problems at the project as delays and costs increased.
SCE&G have already paid $1.4 billion toward the project and under South Carolina law will continue to pay for decades. SCE&G is seeking regulatory approval to charge customers another $2.2 billion over the next 60 years.
The original cost estimate for SCE&G’s 55% share of the project, set in March 2009, was $6.3 billion. The estimate was amended in November 2016 to $7.7 billion with new in-service dates. The amended price was based on a revised fixed price of $3.345 billion for the engineering-procurement-construction contract with Westinghouse Electric, which has since filed for bankruptcy.
In the suit filed against Santee Cooper, customers allege the cost increases they are being asked to pay constitute an unconstitutional taking under South Carolina state law. The plaintiffs are seeking refunds and asking the judge to certify their action as a class-action suit so that other ratepayers could join in.
Santee Cooper’s original cost estimate for its 45% share of the Summer project was $5.12 billion, amended to $6.2 billion in 2016.
South Carolina’s 2007 Base Load Review Act (BLRA) allowed SCE&G to bill customers for the Summer project as they built it, rather than after it entered service. The law also allows the utility full cost recovery, if the plant is not built.
Shortly after the partners announced their plan to abandon the nuclear project, called for a special session to address the situation.
Santee Cooper is a state-owned agency and is not subject to the BLRA. South Carolina’s governor has said that he is looking for an entity to replace Santee Cooper in the Summer project and that the agency could be put up for sale. Late this month, Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter resigned. A search is under way for his replacement.
- The Post and Courier SCE&G faces second lawsuit seeking refunds after scuttling V.C. Summer project
- The Post & Courier Santee Cooper customers sue to recoup money they paid for abandoned nuclear project
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