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Santee Cooper says it has no information about proposed bid

Staff Report //February 16, 2018//

Santee Cooper says it has no information about proposed bid

Staff Report //February 16, 2018//

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State-owned utility Santee Cooper says it has no information about a potential $15.9 billion proposal from Florida-based NextEra Energy to buy the troubled agency.

“We have had no discussions with anyone,” Santee Cooper corporate communications manager Mollie Gore said Friday. “It’s far too early in the process to know how this will affect the future of the company.”

Gore said state legislators field proposals from would-be buyers.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has been shopping Santee Cooper, which is saddled with $8 billion in debt — half of it related to the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project — as a way to refund ratepayers some of the money spent on the abandoned reactors.

NextEra, with consolidated revenue of $17.5 billion and approximately 46,400 megawatts of generating capacity, employs around 14,300 people in 27 states and Canada. The utility has embarked recently on an advertising campaign in S.C. markets.

The $15.9 billion proposal comes one week after Mike Couick, CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, appeared before the House Ratepayer Protection Committee. In that meeting, Couick presented a resolution adopted by leaders of the 20 co-op boards across the state that said a continuation of the status quo at Santee Cooper would be unacceptable and that any proposal to buy the utility should be considered.

Couick said the co-ops are considering their own proposal to buy Santee Cooper.

Santee Cooper owned 45% of the twin, 1,117-megawatt nuclear reactors being built at the V.C. Summer nuclear power station in Fairfield County. S.C. Electric and Gas owned 55%. After nearly a decade of rising costs and delays, project contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in April, and the co-owners abandoned the project in July. Ratepayers of both utilities are on the hook for the combined $9 billion the companies sank into their construction.

Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Energy has presented a $14.6 billion proposal to acquire SCE&G parent company SCANA, though that deal has run into friction in the House and the Senate. Senators approved a lengthy pre-approval research period that Dominion says is unworkable, and the House has passed several bills that could affect the proposal.