Former SCANA CEO pleads guilty to fraud

March 1, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The latest episode in the continuing saga of the failed nuclear expansion project at South Carolina’s Summer plant played out in federal court last week when the former chief executive officer of SCANA, Kevin Marsh, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud. According to the state attorney general’s office, Marsh will serve two years of a 10-year sentence, followed by three years of probation, provided he continues to cooperate with prosecutors. Marsh will also part with $5 million, which is to be used to help low-income ratepayers with their utility bills.

“This case is a good example of the power of our state grand jury and how our office uses it to hold the powerful accountable,” said South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson. “While this criminal proceeding is not meant to repay the customers who spent billions of dollars on nuclear plants that were never finished, we hope they take some comfort from the fact that the former CEO of SCANA has pled guilty for his role in this debacle. A public utility and its officers must serve the public.”

The year in review 2020: Power and Operations

January 8, 2021, 9:35AMNuclear News

Here is a look back at the top stories of 2020 from our Power and Operations section in Newswire and Nuclear News magazine. Remember to check back to Newswire soon for more top stories from 2020.

Power and Operations section

Dominion to pay $25-million civil penalty in SEC case

December 8, 2020, 12:05PMNuclear News

Dominion Energy has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $25 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against SCANA Corporation and subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) regarding SCANA’s involvement in the failed Summer nuclear expansion project. Virginia-based Dominion acquired SCANA in January 2019.

Dominion disclosed in May that it had reached an “agreement in principle” with the staff of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement to settle the case for the above-stated amount.

The final agreement, which at this writing is still subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, also calls for the payment of $112.5 million in “disgorgement plus prejudgment interest.” This penalty, however, will be deemed satisfied by SCANA and SCE&G’s settlement payments in related rate payer and shareholder litigation.

Settlement reached over Summer equipment ownership

September 3, 2020, 2:59PMNuclear News

South Carolina’s state-owned utility Santee Cooper and Westinghouse Electric Company have finalized the terms of a settlement for determining ownership of equipment associated with the Summer plant’s abandoned nuclear new-build project. The settlement agreement gives Santee Cooper full ownership of, and the ability to immediately begin marketing, all nonnuclear equipment, the utility announced on August 31.

Santee Cooper, Dominion agree to pay $520 million in Summer suit

July 23, 2020, 9:28AMNuclear News

A circuit court judge on July 20 gave final approval to a $520-million settlement in a class action civil suit brought against Santee Cooper over alleged deceptive business practices involving the failed nuclear-expansion project at South Carolina’s Summer plant.

Santee Cooper was the junior partner to SCANA Corporation’s South Carolina Electric and Gas in the two-reactor project, which was canceled in July 2017 (NN, Aug. 2017, p. 17). In July 2019, SCANA became a wholly owned subsidiary of Virginia-based Dominion Energy (NN, Feb. 2019, p. 15).

According to the lawsuit, brought by ratepayers, Santee Cooper raised rates to cover the increasing costs of the Summer expansion even after becoming aware that the project was no longer viable.

Weighing options for NextEra Energy and Summer-­2 and -­3 site

February 17, 2020, 4:40PMNuclear News

NextEra Energy announced on February 11 that its bid to buy South Carolina’s public utility, Santee Cooper, is the “recommended purchase proposal” following a formal bid invitation called for by the state’s General Assembly in May 2019 (NN, June 2019, p. 9). Competing with NextEra’s purchase offer is a reform plan put forward by Santee Cooper in an attempt to avoid a sale as the utility continues to grapple with the failed Summer-­2 and -­3 nuclear construction project and the $3.6 billion in debt incurred before the project was halted in July 2017.

A report from the South Carolina Department of Administration published on February 11 outlined the competing plans and factors that the General Assembly may want to take into consideration as it mulls the plans. A third option, a proposal by Dominion Energy to take over the management, but not the ownership, of Santee Cooper was also evaluated.