Abandoned power plant may have license withdrawn to recover money

One of the main partners in the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear reactor work is asking to have the failed projects’ licenses withdrawn to help it capture $2 billion in tax deductions for the past year.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. late last month filed a formal request with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to withdraw the combined operating licenses (COLs) for the Summer Station Units 2 and 3. SCE&G’s parent company, SCANA Corp., and partner Santee Cooper announced they were abandoning work on the long delayed, hugely expensive reactors on July 31 after nine years.

SCANA originally reported that no customer refunds were forthcoming but last week’s release indicated that tax deductions might help offset the enormous bill from the alleged $20 billion project.

“This notification is consistent with our plans for abandonment and helps to ensure we qualify for a tax deduction in 2017 so that we can capture approximately $2 billion for our customers to offset the costs of the new nuclear project,” said incoming SCANA CFO Iris Griffin in a statement.

In its notification to the NRC, SCE&G states that it has irrevocably abandoned its interests in the VCS Units 2 and 3. All of its completion and preservation activities have ceased, according to the company release. Work is limited to only those actions required to place the site in a safe condition, terminate construction and close active permits.

SCE&G has offered to cede its abandoned interest in the VCS Units 2 and 3 project to Santee Cooper, for no consideration. If, prior to the NRC approval of this request to withdraw the COLs, Santee Cooper chooses to seek to become the sole licensee for the project, SCE&G will support an application to the NRC to transfer the licenses to Santee Cooper, according to the release.

Already struggling with cost overruns and delays, the Summer project became insurmountable for SCE&G and Santee Cooper after contractor Westinghouse declared bankruptcy earlier in 2017.

Work started in 2009. The projects would need to be completed by New Year’s Day on 2021 to qualify for production tax credits, according to the companies, but they believed that deadline was not achievable.

Santee Cooper and SCANA executives said they sought help from the Trump Administration to save the Summer reactor work, but no response was forthcoming.

Both Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter and SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh resigned in the wake of the project abandonment.

Federal regulators and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina both revealed several months ago they were going to investigate the reasons behind the abandonment.

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