Dominion Energy Will Buy Scana For $7.9 Billion After Nuclear Flop


"We believe this merger will provide significant benefits to SCE&G's customers, SCANA's shareholders and the communities Scana serves", Thomas Farrell, president of Dominion, said in a statement.

In addition to a $1.7 billion writeoff of nuclear costs, the company proposes a $1.3 billion payment to SCE&G customers, amounting to about $1,000 for the average residential ratepayer.

Dominion also plans to write off $1.7 billion in losses tied to the VC Summer project in Fairfield County.

For Dominion, the deal will bolster its size, with the combined company serving 6.5 million electric and natural gas customers in eight states.

Meanwhile, Dominion says ratepayers will get an additional 5 percent reduction in future rates, or an average of $7 a month.

SCANA has struggled in recent months after it and Santee Cooper abandoned the construction of two new Westinghouse units at the VC Summer nuclear plant in SC after the bankruptcy and collapse of Westinghouse and huge cost and schedule overruns. Finally, even SCANA customers in SC - myself included - win, since we'll enjoy lower electricity rates and can recoup some of the costs we've paid toward the failed project. But cost overruns, construction delays and the bankruptcy of the project's lead contractor led them to abandon the expansion last July. The proposed deal is valued at about $14.6 billion, including assumption of debt.

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"Any significant changes to economics of the deal, we have opportunity not to close", Farrell said Wednesday. SCANA now faces multiple lawsuits and an SEC investigation into whether it misled shareholders about the project, while Santee Cooper could be sold off to pay for the abandoned plant.

A SC state official said a year ago that customers had already paid $1.4 billion for the plant, which comes to about 18% of a typical residential bill. Following the merger, SCANA will operate as a subsidiary of Dominion Energy and retain its SC headquarters.

"Dominion is still going to have a very big uphill climb" for approval of the deal in SC, said Pourreza, who had upgraded Scana to hold from a sell on the prospect for a takeover. Its presence in SC is now limited to two solar fields in Jasper County and a natural gas transportation line. "There is more work to be done, but today, we are headed in the right direction".

He also noted that the merger offers myriad benefits to SCANA shareholders, including "the largest utility customer cash refund in history", and would "guarantee a rapidly declining impact from the V.C. Summer project". As a merged entity, the two companies will also complete a $180 million purchase of the gas-fired Columbia Energy Center "at no cost to customers", to ensure reliability. "Having certainty on this issue can act as a catalyst for economic development and it is essential for the Dominion Energy-SCANA merger to move forward".

South Carolina's legislative leaders are weighing in on the proposed acquisition of a troubled SC utility by Dominion Energy.

At least four companies, including Dominion, have expressed interest in buying Santee Cooper, which supplies power to most of South Carolina's electric cooperatives. Just last week, Santee-Cooper board chair Leighton Lord resigned, in a letter to the governor.

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