Santee Cooper CEO retiring following failure of nuclear project

Santee Cooper CEO retiring following failure of nuclear project

The CEO of South Carolina's state-owned utility is retiring and is the first executive to leave following last month's failure of a nuclear power project that customers have been funding since 2009.

The board of Santee Cooper announced Lonnie Carter's resignation Friday. Carter has been CEO since 2004.

During Carter's tenure at the utility, Santee Cooper tripled its generating capacity and the number of customers served, according to a release.

The public utility and privately owned South Carolina Electric & Gas decided July 31 to bail on the expansion of V.C. Summer Nuclear Station after jointly spending nearly $10 billion.

The abrupt end left about 6,000 people jobless and brought a backlash from lawmakers and customers who have spent about $2 billion on the project through rate hikes. Santee Cooper's customers paid more than half a billion of that.

Legislative panels created to investigate the debacle started meeting Tuesday.

Chairman of the Santee Cooper Board of Directors Leighton Lord said the board accepted Carter's decision to retire with "great respect and admiration for all that he has done during his career."

"Lonnie has had a positive influence on Santee Cooper, our customers and the state of South Carolina, thanks to the many innovations and accomplishments we achieved with his guidance," Lord said. "On a personal note, I appreciate the sincerity and integrity he has demonstrated throughout our time working together."

Carter, who joined Santee Cooper in 1982 as an analyst in the controller's office, also served as manager of corporate forecasting, vice president of corporate forecasting, and senior vice president of customer service.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.