It took a year of haggling, but it finally happened; Dominion, SCANA, S.C. lawmakers, regulators, attorneys for the ratepayer, and the South Carolina PSC (Public Service Commission) approved the purchase of SCANA by Dominion. Part of this deal was Dominion agreeing to lower SCE&G’s electric rates by about 15 percent — or $22 a month for the typical residential customer.
This decision was not what many in S.C. wanted because SCE&G customers had already paid more than $2 billion in higher power bills — about $27 a month on average — for the failed nuclear project. Now these customers will pay another $2.3 billion — or $1,600 for the average household — over the next 20 years for the project’s two unfinished reactors, now abandoned.
But S.C. Governor Henry McMaster hosted a reception, this week, at the Governor’s Mansion for Dominion Energy’s executives in an attempt to repair relationships between the legislators and the utility. Those invited included Dominion’s new S.C. management team, legislators, members of the governor’s cabinet, and “others with a role in the economic development efforts across South Carolina”.
S.C. Senate Majority Leader, Shane Massey said, “I don’t think Dominion understands just how difficult of a job that’s going to be. In some cases, bridges were not just burned, they were nuclear bombed.”
In the wake of the V.C. Summer abandonment and the actions that followed to finalize a deal, caused many critics to raise concerns about the outside influence that the utilities seemed to have on S.C. politics. This criticism surfaced again, earlier this month, when it was learned that utilities, including Dominion and NextEra, were among the top sponsors for McMaster’s inaugural festivities.
NextEra – a Florida-based utility – has demonstrated an interest in purchasing the state-owned utility, Santee Cooper. Governor McMaster has been seeking buyers for the state-owned utility – it racked up $4 billion in debt as SCANA’s junior partner in the V.C. Summer project. Dominion has said it has no interest in buying Santee Cooper, but they have offered to manage it.