State owned utility also paid bonuses for nuclear project

By on September 1, 2017

Santee Cooper Logo (Photo By Santeecooper - Own work, CC BY 3.0)
Santee Cooper Logo (Photo By Santeecooper – Own work, CC BY 3.0)

COLUMBIA, S.C.— Top executives of the state-owned utility Santee Cooper were paid bonuses for the now-failed effort to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina.

Santee Cooper executives were paid more than $70,000 in bonuses since 2011 for the now-abandoned project, The State newspaper reported.

Santee Cooper was a 45 per cent partner with South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. in the effort to build the two new reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County north of Columbia, where they have shared ownership of an existing reactor for more than 30 years.

The utilities said July 31 they were giving up on a nearly decade-long effort expansion, citing expenses and construction delays. They had spent about $10 billion so far, much of it from customers.

The decision came after lead contractor Westinghouse declare bankruptcy in March.

SCE&G paid nearly $21 million in bonuses to top executives, some of which was for reaching milestones in the nuclear project. The privately owned SCE&G did not say how much of the bonus money was specifically for the nuclear project.

More than half of Santee Cooper’s $70,000 went to CEO Lonnie Carter, who announced last week he will retire.

“The performance goals tied to the nuclear project were specific and measurable, and all payouts were based on those goals being met,” Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore said. Details on Carter’s retirement package have not been released.

Santee Cooper executives are paid less, working for a state agency, than those working for SCE&G, the newspaper reported.

A law passed in 2007 gave utilities the ability to charge customers for reactors as they’re being built and recoup money even if a project is never finished.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has said he is looking for ways to renew construction and complete at least one of the reactors.