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Fairfield County reaches $99M settlement with Dominion over failed VC Summer project

VC Summer (copy)

The V.C. Summer construction site in Fairfield County. File/High Flyer/Provided

Dominion Energy has wrapped up one of the last legal disputes remaining from the failure of South Carolina's $9 billion nuclear expansion project.

The Virginia-based power giant has agreed to provide more than $99 million in cash and economic development help to Fairfield County, where the promised V.C. Summer nuclear plant expansion was supposed to generate tens of millions of new tax dollars each year.

The deal, approved by Fairfield County Council on May 10, will pay for a new $45.7 million sewage-treatment plant and nearly $11.7 million toward preparing county-owned sites for major economic development projects. Dominion will hand the county more than $27.1 million in cash.

Dominion and Fairfield County officials described the deal as a win-win. The county will get help with infrastructure projects it needs to spur the local economy. Dominion will have the right to sell electricity to any new businesses and homes that come from the county's growth.

"They're helping to rebuild the county and mitigate some of the damage, so it's an outstanding solution," Fairfield County economic development director Ty Davenport said.

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The agreement comes nearly four years after the project's collapse in July 2017. The expansion of the existing V.C. Summer Nuclear Power Station in Jenkinsville was expected to put South Carolina at the forefront of a national nuclear renaissance and generate $30 million to $50 million new tax dollars per year for Fairfield County.

But the owners, Cayce-based South Carolina Electric and Gas and state-owned Santee Cooper, cut the cord after nearly a decade of construction, chronically missed deadlines and budget overruns. The two utilities wasted a collective $9 billion on the venture, much of which will be footed by their ratepayers in the coming decades.

Dominion purchased a reeling SCE&G in January 2019 and took over the utility's legal liabilities. The company has reached a series of settlements with SCE&G's former ratepayers and investors in an effort to move on from V.C. Summer.

"It is clear that Dominion Energy is committed to becoming a friend to South Carolina and particularly Fairfield County," County Council Chairman Moses Bell wrote in a statement about the deal. "In the end, Dominion Energy's goal was not to defeat us, but to help us in our efforts to improve the quality of life of our citizens."

Reach Avery Wilks at 803-374-3115. Follow him on Twitter at @AveryGWilks. Send tips to averywilks93@protonmail.com.

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