Santee Cooper: Talks continue with Duke about sale of South Carolina nuclear project

  • Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:01 a.m.
Santee Cooper has projected it will need to spend more than $5 billion to expand the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville. Its looking to sell some of its stake in the project to Duke Energy. Buy this photo

BY JOHN P. McDERMOTT

jmcdermott@postandcourier.com

Santee Cooper held a special board meeting Tuesday to discuss the potential sale of a portion of its stake in the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

No action was taken.

The nearly two-hour telephone board meeting took place behind closed doors at Santee Cooper’s Moncks Corner headquarters. There was no vote or public discussion afterward, said Mollie Gore, spokeswoman for the state-owned power and water utility.

Santee Cooper is responsible for 45 percent of the costs of adding two reactors to the Fairfield County nuclear power station. The utility has estimated it will have to spend $5.1 billion on the project in Jenkinsville, north of Columbia.

Santee Cooper began to look at cutting its ownership 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 began seeking buyers for a portion of the nuclear project. Charlotte-based Duke emerged as a potential suitor in mid-2011.

Gore declined to comment about what the board discussed Tuesday, other than to say the contract details are “complicated.”

“All I can tell you is the negotiations are continuing,” Gore said today, echoing a comment from Duke spokesman Rick Rhodes on Monday.

Santee Cooper called the special board meeting last week “to discuss contract negotiations with regard to new nuclear generation.”

Citing unidentified South Carolina sources, the Charlotte Business Journal this week reported that “there is now an agreement” for Duke to buy a 20 percent stake in the V.C Summmer plant for Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress “with the possibility of purchasing an additional share later.”

Any deal would have to approved in a public vote by Santee Cooper’s board, which is scheduled to hold its regular meeting on Jan. 27.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. owns the other 55 percent of the V.C Summmer plant.

The new nuclear reactors are expected to come online in 2017 and 2018.

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