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SCE&G faces $60 million lien tied to Fairfield County nuclear plant

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SCE&G

Aiken legislative delegation members are asking for an audit of South Carolina Electric & Gas' controversial weather normalization adjustment, or WNA, rate.

South Carolina Electric & Gas is facing a nearly $60 million lien in relation to construction at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant expansion in Fairfield County.

Court records independently obtained by the Aiken Standard state that Fluor Enterprises of Greenville has filed a notice of mechanic's lien against SCE&G in the amount of $59,950,641.34 plus interest.

Filed March 23 in Fairfield County, the document states the lien amount is "a true and just account of the amount due to the Petitioner."

SCE&G is a subsidiary of SCANA Corp., which is a 55 percent partner in the V.C. Summer plant project.

Fluor Enterprises is a subcontractor for Westinghouse, lead contractor at V.C. Summer. Its parent organization is Fluor Corp., which also is the parent company for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, lead management and operating contractor at the Savannah River Site in Aiken County.

Fluor Enterprises also is listed as the top creditor in the Chapter 11 filing, listing a claim of nearly $194 million.

Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection March 29, six days after the notice of mechanic's lien was filed, according to federal court records.

SCANA's stock fell 48 cents Wednesday to $65.66 a share, a drop of 0.73 percent, according to the Nasdaq exchange.

The notice of lien was filed six days before SCANA issued a news release addressing the Westinghouse bankruptcy. In the release, Fluor's director pledged support for V.C. Summer.

"Fluor will continue to support SCANA, Santee Cooper, and Westinghouse on the VC Summer project as the parties work through the situation," David Seaton, chairman and CEO of Fluor, said in the SCANA release. "We remain committed to the successful completion of this important project."

Fluor released its own statement early Thursday morning, which addressed Project Vogtle as well, another Westinghouse project that also has a lien placed against it by Fluor.

"Fluor continues to work on the projects at both sites at the request of the owners," the statement said. "Fluor expects that it will be compensated by the owners of the projects for the previous and ongoing work at both projects."

A SCANA spokesperson declined to comment about the lien prior to a 3 p.m. conference call with investors. There was no official comment from SCANA late Wednesday.

According to state law, a mechanic's lien allows a person or entity to recover costs for "labor performed or furnished or for materials furnished and actually used in the erection, alteration, or repair of a building or structure upon real estate."

The mechanic's lien notice states SCE&G was previously provided with a notice of furnishing. It also states the last of the labor and materials was furnished to the V.C. Summer property on March 23.

In a news release Wednesday, SCANA said it and minority partner Santee Cooper have hashed out an agreement with Westinghouse to allow the nuclear plant work to continue.

The agreement was expected to be filed as part of the Westinghouse bankruptcy case. The news release said Fluor would continue as construction manager at V.C. Summer.

According to the lien notice, in addition to debts, the document says the amount also covers the cost of enforcing its lien, as well as the buildings and structures at V.C. Summer.

A subsidiary of SCANA Corp., SCE&G provides electricity and gas services to a large portion of Aiken County.

SCE&G has faced additional criticism recently for the weather normalization adjustment, or WNA, fee it assesses to residential gas customers.

At least 120 complaints about the WNA have been filed with the state's Office of Regulatory Staff, or ORS, following a series of Aiken Standard reports about SCE&G billing practices.

The Aiken County legislative delegation has requested ORS to conduct an audit of the WNA fee. It will be completed by Sept. 1, according to the ORS.