South Carolina Electric & Gas, along with parent company SCANA Corp., on Saturday agreed to a $2 billion settlement of a lawsuit that sought to redress rate hikes that went to pay for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear power plant expansion project, which cost more than $9 billion before it was called off in July 2017.
Halting the project triggered an immediate backlash in the state, where SCE&G ratepayers had contributed to the project through a series of nine separate rate hikes that eventually amounted to about a fifth of their electricity bills. When the project was halted after a decade of construction for two Westinghouse Electric Company AP1000 reactors, ratepayers demanded their money back.
Saturday's settlement is contingent upon approval from the state's Public Services Commission and by the judge in the case. It is also contingent upon a successful sale of SCANA to Dominion Energy's proposed buyout of SCANA, according to The State.
The plaintiffs in the case were three: Richard Lightsey, LeBrian Cleckley, and Phillip Cooper, but the beneficiaries of the settlement -- worth more than $2 billion -- are 730,000 SCE&G customers. "The case, filed in the State Court of Common Pleas, "addresses these customers' claims and the Attorney General's arguments related to the Base Load Review Act ("BLRA")," the companies announced. SCANA and SCE&G, however, "deny all the allegations made in the lawsuit, but have agreed to resolve this matter."
SCANA and SCE&G have agreed to create a Common Benefit Fund comprised of up to $2 billion. In addition, the settlement will include $115 million that would have been paid to outgoing SCANA and SCE&G executives as bonus pay, generally referred to as golden parachute payments as part of lavish retirement packages.
SCANA and SCE&G have also agreed to sell several assets -- namely the Ramsey Grove Plantation; the original Charleston Gas & Light Building at 141 Meeting Street in Charleston; and certain Otarre properties in Cayce, S.C.,as part of the settlement.
Eligible settlement class members will receive compensation in the form of a bill credit or a payment of an amount to be distributed by a court-approved class action administrator. Upon the approval of the settlement announced today, the lawsuit will be dismissed by agreement and the claims of SCE&G ratepayers will be resolved.
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