Elected officials in Fairfield County will consider taking legal action against SCANA Corp. on Tuesday after the power company’s abandoned nuclear project failed to deliver a property tax windfall.
The county, which is one of the state’s smallest, has been reeling since the expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station was canceled in July. That decision wiped out thousands of jobs, and it dashed hopes to reshape the rural area’s fortunes.
SCANA, the Cayce-based owner of South Carolina Electric & Gas, was slated to pay Fairfield County roughly $80 million a year once the reactors were finished. The company had signed a contract with the county allowing it to pay a fixed fee instead of property taxes.
Fairfield County Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday night to consider "options of potential litigation regarding SCANA & the V.C. Summer new nuclear project," according to an agenda released Monday.
County administrator Jason Taylor declined to elaborate on what options officials were weighing, but he said he expects council to take a vote after meeting behind closed doors.
"I really can’t, right now, divulge anything or talk about it until we’ve gone through that," Taylor said. "We have a legal arrangement with SCE&G with the plants being here, and we’re going to take action in relation to the contract."
SCANA spokesman Eric Boomhower declined to comment, saying the company doesn't comment on potential litigation.
The new reactors were being built on the banks of Lake Monticello in the western part of the county, about 30 miles north of Columbia. But it had raised hopes across a relatively poor county with fewer than 23,000 residents.
County officials had planned to use the new funds to bolster its infrastructure to attract big employers, in hopes of growing the population and adding better-paying jobs. And they envisioned new amenities, like bike trails and county parks that might draw visitors from elsewhere.
Those plans were largely scrapped when SCANA and Moncks Corner-based Santee Cooper, its partner in the nuclear project, halted construction this summer. The power companies spent $9 billion before pulling the plug, citing spiraling costs and mounting schedule delays.
The decision led to one of the largest layoffs in South Carolina history, costing nearly 6,000 workers their jobs. Fairfield County’s unemployment rate has soared in the months since, reaching 9.4 percent in October — by far the highest in the state.