Utility sells settlement for nuclear project

Utility sells settlement for nuclear project

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on the failure of a nuclear power project in South Carolina (all times local):

11 a.m.

South Carolina's state-owned utility is selling its portion of a $2 billion, five-year settlement over a failure nuclear power project to essentially collect 92 percent immediately.

The board of Santee Cooper on Wednesday unanimously approved monetizing the settlement with the parent company of Westinghouse, the bankrupt lead contractor of the now-defunct project.

Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas signed the settlement with Toshiba days before the partners bailed on the partly built reactors at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter calls Citibank's high bid of 91.5 percent "a bird in the hand" considering the Japanese company's "terribly weak" below investment-grade credit.

Citibank's payout does not include Toshiba's first payment of $150 million to the utilities, due this weekend. Santee Cooper executives say SCANA, SCE&G's parent company, is expected to accept the offer too, allowing for the transaction to be completed Wednesday. A SCANA spokeswoman did not immediately respond.

The sale means Santee Cooper will collect about $900 million now instead of the potential of $980 million over five years.

6:30 a.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster says he remains hopeful buyers can revive an abandoned nuclear power project in South Carolina, while multiple lawsuits and investigations probe whether spending should have ended years ago.

McMaster told The Associated Press he met Tuesday with Energy Secretary Rick Perry regarding a loan program for nuclear construction. He calls that key for finding a buyer willing to complete one or both of the partly built reactors.

South Carolina Electric & Gas and state-owned Santee Cooper decided July 31 to bail on the two reactors after jointly spending nearly $10 billion on construction and charging customers more than $2 billion in interest fees since 2009.

Utility executives say they've seen no credible buyout offer.

But McMaster says he's negotiating with a "number of companies and several individuals."

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