The proposed sale of SCANA Corp. cleared its last hurdle at the federal level, placing the fate of the deal with Dominion Energy Inc. in the hands of state regulators.
The two utility owners said that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer to Dominion of the licenses for the three reactors at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia, including the two unfinished units that will never be completed.
"This constitutes one of several regulatory approvals required by the merger agreement between the two companies," according to a written statement Tuesday.
Dominion announced the tie-up in early January, roughly five months after SCANA abandoned the troubled expansion of the V.C. Summer plant following years of delays and soaring construction costs. The all-stock transaction is valued at about $14.6 billion.
A majority of SCANA shareholders voted in favor of the sale of the South Carolina Electric & Gas parent to the Virginia-based power giant in late July. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Georgia Public Service Commission and the Federal Trade Commission also have signed off on the deal.
The final approvals fall to state utility regulators in South Carolina and North Carolina, where SCANA owns a natural gas business.
The debate over whether the deal should be allowed to go through is set to heat up in the Cayce-based energy company's home turf. The S.C. Public Service Commission has scheduled three night hearings in Columbia, Aiken and North Charleston starting this month to give consumers a chance to comment on the sale and other issues tied to the $9 billion V.C. Summer debacle.
SCE&G ratepayers have already paid more than $2 billion toward the costs of the failed nuclear project. Dominion has offered them an average refund of $1,000 each if it buys SCANA.
The commission will hold more public hearings in November to review the pros and cons of the sale. It's expected to make a final decision before the end of the year.
SCANA isn't the only South Carolina utility that could be sold because of the V.C. Summer fallout. State-owned Santee Cooper, which spent about $4 billion on the project as a minority investor, also is staring down a possible ownership change.
A committee of lawmakers on Wednesday continued to hear information as they consider whether to try to sell the Moncks Corner-based utility's assets. Gov. Henry McMaster has been pushing for a sale since the nuclear project collapsed in mid-2017.