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SCANA Corp. halted work on its troubled nuclear plant expansion on July 31. File/Provided

The financial fallout from the failed expansion of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant pushed SCANA Corp. into red-ink territory last year.

The Cayce-based utility owner said write-downs tied to the scuttled Midlands power project totaled more than $1.1 billion in 2017, triggering a net loss of $119 million.

Nearly all of the deficit was attributed to the company’s South Carolina Electric & Gas subsidiary.

In 2016, SCANA reported a $595 million gain.

The bulk of the charge-offs — $908 million — was booked in the fourth quarter, resulting in a loss of $445 million. For the same period a year earlier, SCANA earned a $124 million profit.

Results from October to December also were negatively affected by an $8 million jump in legal expenses and year-end changes to federal tax code, which shaved $30 million off the bottom line.

Also, milder weather dented earnings in the fourth quarter and for the rest of last year, the company said.

The 2017 losses at SCE&G came to $172 million, which was offset by gains at natural gas businesses that SCANA operates in North Carolina and Georgia.

For the first time in recent memory, the embattled utility owner did not hold its regularly scheduled conference call to discuss its financial results and business outlook with utility analysts, citing its planned sale to Virginia-based Dominion Energy.

SCANA also maintained its quarterly cash dividend, which some critics have called for to be cut or eliminated to provide money to help pay for the failed V.C. Summer expansion. Stockholders will be paid 61¼ cents a share April 1.

“The payment of dividends will be evaluated quarterly by SCANA's board of directors and the dividend for the first quarter of 2018 is consistent with the quarterly dividend rate for 2017 and permitted by the terms of the merger agreement with Dominion Energy,” the company said.

State Rep. Peter McCoy, a Charleston Republican who led a committee that investigated the V.C. Summer project, took to social media to weigh in on the payments to shareholders, which will cost SCANA more than $87 million.

"Still no relief for ratepayers," McCoy wrote on Twitter.

SCANA has been reeling since it decided in late July to abandon a $9 billion effort to add a pair of reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station after years of delays and cost overruns.

The company has about 719,000 electric customers, all in South Carolina, who are paying about $37 million a month toward the failed nuclear project under a controversial law passed in 2007. It also serves 1.3 million natural gas customers in the Carolinas and Georgia.

 

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott