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Scana Nuclear Cancellation Probed by Feds

The SEC seeks information tied to Scana's nuclear project abort.

Bloomberg -- Scana Corp., already the target of federal and state investigations, said it received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with an abandoned nuclear power project.

The Cayce, South Carolina-based company said it will “fully cooperate” and offered no further details, according to a statement Tuesday. Scana is under a federal investigation and a state probe into the expansion of its V.C. Summer nuclear reactor, a project it canceled after costs spiraled to more than $20 billion.

Scana may be blocked from collecting billions it spent on the unfinished project, a prospect that could lead it to write down billions or sell itself. The company may have “failed to disclose information that should have been disclosed” when it sought rate increases to fund the project, state regulators said in a filing last month.

“Normally, the SEC would be looking at inaccurate or incomplete disclosure of things related to the issuing of securities,” Kit Konolige, a New York-based analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, said by phone Tuesday.

Shares fell as much as 1.7 percent to $48.34 in New York. Scana fell to the lowest in more than two years after a request from staff at the state Public Service Commission last month to suspend previously approved rate increases for the nuclear project.

The request by commission staff to suspend rate hikes is “illegal and unconstitutional," Scana said in a Sept. 28 filing. The company is collecting $37 million a month for two unfinished reactors at the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina.

Scana and its partner, state-owned utility Santee Cooper, halted construction on two new reactors at the plant after its contractor, Westinghouse Electric Co., went bankrupt. The decision leaves Southern Co. as the only utility owner building a nuclear plant in the U.S.

Tuesday’s announcement follows an earlier disclosure that the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Carolina is carrying out a grand jury probe of Santee Cooper. Scana has previously said it received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney seeking information about the project. Meanwhile, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has also opened a probe into V.C. Summer, said Robert Kittle, a spokesman for Attorney General Alan Wilson.

Westinghouse, currently reorganizing in Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York, is still debating with utilities who bears the blame and what the financial consequences will be. Meanwhile, its said to seek a sale.

 

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