With the political reaction to the cancellation of the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant expansion project reaching over-boil this week, majority owner SCANA Corporation said Tuesday that Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Marsh would resign at the end of the year. The departure would be matched with the resignation of Senior Vice President Stephen Byrne, the company said.
Marsh and Byrne are the second and third top-level resignations in the wake of the cancellation of the two-reactor expansion project that pivoted on the bankruptcy of construction leader and reactor designer Westinghouse Electric Company, which declared bankruptcy in March. SCANA and minority owner Santee Cooper pulled out of the twin AP-1000 reactor build on July 31. Within a month, Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter announced his retirement with a deal that would allow him $800,000 a year in retirement pay among other entitlements.
Marsh will be replaced by two executives. Current Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Addison will move up to the CEO post, while Keller Kissam, senior vice president at SCANA and president of retail operations for subsidiary South Caroline Electric and Gas, will become SCANA's president.
The political pressure has been heating up for SCANA to demonstrate its commitment to its customers given the abandonment of an incompleted project that ratepayers have funded.
On Monday, South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas called for SCANA to fire Marsh, saying the executive “cannot be trusted to promote or protect its consumers' interest,” according to an Associated Press report.After the announcement was released, Gov. Henry McMaster said that SCANA “finally understands the consequences of mismanaging the construction of the two reactors,” to quote the AP report.
In the announcement, Kissam acknowledged the debacle. “It pains me that SCE&G and its customers have to got through this tumultuous time relating to the abandonment of the new nuclear project.” Kissam called for a prompt resolution of the issues, which include a backlash response to the funding lost.
"Any effort to regain the public's trust starts with no longer charging ratepayers for this failed project, and refunding them the money they've already paid for it," McMaster said Tuesday.
The matter of repaying ratepayers will be taken up by the state's House Committee on Utility Ratepayer Protection. On Monday, the committee members agreed to force SCANA to forfeit $37 million a month in order to compensate ratepayers for the power plants that will not be completed.
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So now the SC politicians are going to lecture us on mismanagement of funds and public trust, a topic they are well familiar with. In my opinion, Mr. Marsh is the scapegoat here.