Dominion sweetens deal to merge with South Carolina utility

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Virginia-based Dominion Energy has sweetened its offer to buy a troubled South Carolina utility in the wake of a multibillion-dollar nuclear construction debacle.

Dominion filed a new plan with state regulators Tuesday that features a bigger rate cut for South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. customers, media outlets reported.

The Public Service Commission is currently considering whether Dominion can buy parent company SCANA. As part of a weekslong hearing, they’re also mulling who should foot the bill for continued costs for the failed $9 billion project at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

Dominion’s latest offer would reduce SCE&G’s customers’ power bills by about $22 a month on average. That’s $1.70 more than Dominion’s previous offer.

The proposed 15-percent rate reduction is also eight cents larger than a temporary rate cut, which expires next month, imposed earlier this year by state lawmakers. Dominion and SCE&G previously had said the Legislature’s rate cut was unconstitutional.

SCE&G raised its electric rates nine times over the past decade – meaning about $27 a month for the average residential customer – to help finance the construction of two new reactors. SCE&G and state-owned utility Santee Cooper abandoned the V.C. Summer project in 2017 following the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.

The proposal came as a pair of SCE&G whistleblowers testified, accusing executives of lying to regulators and low-balling the project’s cost to string it along. The project’s failure has spawned multiple lawsuits, state and federal investigations and the resignations of several company executives.

Regulators have until Dec. 21 to rule.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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