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Report shows problems at V.C. Summer in 2015

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Columbia attorney Scott Elliott presented a legal analysis of the Bechtel Corp. report to the S.C. House Utility Ratepayers Protection Committee Friday, saying the report indicates management of the V.C. Summer nuclear project was critically flawed.

The Bechtel report, completed in February 2016, pointed out a lack of management, vision, goals and accountability between SCANA and Westinghouse. It also showed that Westinghouse’s plan was not buildable, Elliott said.

SCANA, parent corporation of S.C. Electric & Gas Co., had asked the Bechtel Corp. to prepare the report on Westinghouse’s performance as contractor. Santee Cooper asked for the report because it was concerned about Westinghouse’s performance on the construction contract. The report had not been public until Gov. Henry McMaster’s office released it, against SCANA’s wishes.

“This report is a candid assessment of the project, warts and all, and there are plenty of warts,” Elliott told the panel. “This report calls into question every decision made by SCE&G and Santee Cooper.”

In 2016, SCANA requested $850 million in rate increases with a guarantee that the project would be completed.

Elliott told the group that SCE&G had multiple opportunities to disclose the information and said the company should not be able to recoup lost funds because of abandonment under the Base Load Review Act.

The House panel, chaired by Rep. Peter McCoy, R-Charleston, has been charged by House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Hartsville, to dig into the circumstances that led to the fate of the project that has cost the jobs of 5,400 South Carolinians and threatens the economies of communities in Fairfield, Richland, Lexington and Newberry counties, where many of the workers lived.

A skeleton crew is still working at the site as the project is wound down.

SCE&G, principal subsidiary of Cayce-based SCANA, abandoned the project after Santee Cooper opted to suspend participation.

About $9 billion has been spent by both SCE&G and Santee Cooper on the construction of two 1,117-megawatt reactor units. Estimates indicated that the project would have cost the utilities about $20 billion to complete, nearly double the original budget.

The project collapsed after Westinghouse filed in late April for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

SCE&G and Santee Cooper operate one reactor unit at the Jenkinsville plant, which went into commercial operation in 1984.

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