Santee Cooper has called a special board meeting for next week to discuss its future role in the $10 billion expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

The state-owned power and water utility said Friday it will be talking about "contract negotiations with regard to new nuclear generation" during the closed-door portion of the meeting.

It did not elaborate.

No other items are on the agenda, and no action is expected to be taken.

The board will meet by phone Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. in Moncks Corner.

Santee Cooper is responsible for 45 percent of the costs of the Fairfield County nuclear expansion, which will replace the aging coal plants it has been closing. The utility has estimated it will have to spend $5.1 billion on the dual-reactor project north of Columbia.

Santee Cooper began to look at cutting its stake in the V.C. Summer deal about four years ago, after its biggest customer announced it would shift some of its business to Duke Energy.

No longer needing the extra power, Santee Cooper then began seeking buyers for a portion of the nuclear project. Charlotte-based Duke emerged as potential suitor in mid-2011. Those talks continue and are expected to be the main topic at Tuesday's board meeting.

Santee Cooper issued about $1.8 billion in debt last year, with a good chunk of that going to the V.C Summer expansion. If it can't strike a deal with Duke or some other buyer, it has said it will need to borrow more between this year and 2018, which likely will push its electric rates higher.

Cayce-based South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. owns the other 55 percent of the nuclear plant.