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Desperate effort to find a buyer for the Santee Cooper after its nuclear fiasco

Inside the hurried effort to find a buyer for Santee Cooper, Herald Sun, BY AVERY G. WILKS, DECEMBER 30, 2018 , COLUMBIA, SC 

A day before state regulators approved Dominion Energy’s bid to buy SCANA Corp., representatives from at least six firms gathered in a secret meeting in North Charleston to discuss a possible solution to the other half of South Carolina’s $9 billion nuclear construction fiasco.

The gathering revolved around the possible sale of Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility that racked up more than $4 billion in debt before abandoning a joint effort with SCANA to expand a nuclear power plant in Fairfield County.

ICF International — a Virginia-based firm hired by the General Assembly — hosted the invitation-only meeting as part of a hurried, ongoing effort to solicit and study bids from some of the largest names in the utility industry.

There to ask questions about Santee Cooper’s assets and operations — and to scout out the competition — were two dozen legal and financial experts representing Charlotte-based Duke Energy, Florida-based NextEra Energy, Virginia-based Dominion, Greenville-based Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, New York-based LS Power and South Carolina’s electric cooperatives — who together buy three-fifths of Santee Cooper’s electricity.

SCANA’s chapter of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station debacle is winding down with the Cayce-based company’s impending sale to Dominion. But 17 months after the project’s collapse, the buzz surrounding Santee Cooper’s future is only now ramping up.

This summer, S.C. lawmakers slashed the nuclear-bloated electric rates for customers of SCANA’s electric subsidiary, SCE&G. That $22-a-month rate cut was made permanent by state regulators earlier this month.

Now, the nearly 2 million S.C. residents who get their power from Santee Cooper — either directly or through one of the state’s 20 electric co-ops — are wondering whether they will get a rate cut, too. That will be one of the biggest questions facing the General Assembly when it reconvenes in Columbia in January.

……….. The presentation on Santee Cooper’s assets and operations, and a question-and-answer period were scheduled to last all day. But with each of the bidders hesitant to ask a question that could tip their hands, the event wrapped up about lunchtime instead, sources said.

ICF declined to comment through a public relations agency.

State Rep. Murrell Smith, the Sumter Republican who co-chairs the Legislature’s Santee Cooper sale study committee, told The State in a recent interview he is confident in the timeline set for the process.

ICF told Smith’s committee there would be enough time for “meaningful and thorough bids,” particularly since potential buyers have known for more than a year that Santee Cooper could be on the auction block, he said.

Those bids are due Jan. 14.


December 31, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, USA

1 Comment »

  1. Current Event Notification Report for December 31, 2018
    U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Operations Center

    Event Reports For
    12/28/2018 – 12/31/2018


    Power Reactor Event Number: 53809
    Facility: COOPER
    Region: 4 State: NE
    Unit: [1] [] []
    RX Type: [1] GE-4
    NRC Notified By: CASEY WOODS
    HQ OPS Officer: ANDREW WAUGH Notification Date: 12/29/2018
    Notification Time: 10:27 [ET]
    Event Date: 12/29/2018
    Event Time: 00:00 [CST]
    Last Update Date: 12/29/2018
    Emergency Class: UNUSUAL EVENT
    10 CFR Section:
    50.72(a) (1) (i) – EMERGENCY DECLARED
    Person (Organization):
    Unit SCRAM Code RX Crit Initial PWR Initial RX Mode Current PWR Current RX Mode
    1 N Y 100 Power Operation 100 Power Operation
    Event Text


    At 0904 CST, on December 29, 2018, Cooper declared a Notice of Unusual Event under emergency action level HU 3.1. The emergency declaration was due to a toxic gas asphyxiant as a result of a fire. The fire is contained and the fire brigade continues to extinguishing the fire. Offsite support has not been requested.

    The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector. Additionally, State and Local government agencies were also notified.

    Notified DHS SWO, FEMA Operations Center, DHS NICC, FEMA NWC (email), DHS Nuclear SSA (email), and FEMA NRCC SASC (email).


    At 1544 CST, on December 29, 2018, Cooper terminated the Notice of Unusual Event under emergency action level HU 3.1. The fire was verified to be extinguished and the flammable material was removed. The plant remained at 100% power for the duration of the event.

    The licensee issued a press release regarding the event at 1202 CST, on December 29, 2018.

    The license notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

    Notified R4DO (Taylor), NRR EO (Groom), IRD MOC (Gott), DHS SWO, FEMA Operations Center, DHS NICC, FEMA NWC (email), DHS Nuclear SSA (email), and FEMA NRCC SASC (email).

    Comment by Michael J Keegan | January 1, 2019 | Reply

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