Power-sharing deal

Jeffrey Collins/AP Preparation work is well under way on one of two new nuclear reactors will be built at V.C. Summer site in Jankinsville. They are scheduled to go online in 2017 and 2018.

Santee Cooper is closing in on a deal to sell some of its stake in the new nuclear reactors being built in the Midlands.

The state-owned utility said Friday that it has signed a letter of intent that allows it to negotiate a deal with South Mississippi Electric Power Association.

The buyer would acquire 2 percent to 7 percent of the $10 billion project as well as some of the energy it generates, Santee Cooper said.

The Moncks Corner-based pubic utility owns 45 percent of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion in Fairfield County. Scana Corp.’s South Carolina Electric & Gas owns the rest.

The new generators were approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on March 30. They are expected to come online in 2017 and 2018.

Earlier this week, Santee Cooper’s board of directors approved a bond sale of nearly $575 million to help finance its share of the project. The debt has been issued, spokeswoman Mollie Gore said Friday.

Santee Cooper began evaluating whether its ownership of the V.C. Summer expansion two years ago after its biggest customer, Central Electric Power Cooperative, announced it would shift some of its electricity purchases to Duke Energy beginning in 2013.

Santee Cooper also has offered to sell Charlotte-based Duke a 5 percent to 10 percent stake in the new reactors. That letter of intent is still pending, Gore said.

The Florida-based Orlando Utilities Commission looked at the deal last year but it later backed out.

The agreement announced Friday gives South Mississippi Electric the option to buy more of Santee Cooper’s stake later. The reactors are expect to come online in 20

The would-be investor is a non-profit group that generates, transmits and sells wholesale electric energy. Its primary customers are 11 cooperatives that serve 410,000 homes and businesses in 56 of Mississippi’s 82 counties.

Reach John P. McDermott at 937-5572