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State-owned utility asks SC Supreme Court about payments

MONCKS CORNER (AP) State-owned utility Santee Cooper is asking the South Carolina Supreme Court to resolve a dispute with electric cooperatives.

Santee Cooper asked the Supreme Court on June 25 to determine whether the electric cooperatives must pay their share for a failed nuclear project.

SCE&G and Santee Cooper abandoned plans to build two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County last July, after spending $9 billion. Santee Cooper’s share is about $4 billion.

“We understand the frustrations of customers, legislators and other stakeholders over the nuclear project, and we will continue to work to offset costs through potential equipment sales or other avenues,” said Senior Vice President and General Counsel J. Michael Baxley in a press release. “The impact to customers and the state will be far greater, however, if these plaintiff suits continue.”

The electric cooperatives have sued, saying they should only have to pay for plants that generate the electricity they provide to about 800,000 homes and businesses in the state. The cooperatives share would be about $3 billion.

Santee Cooper says if the South Carolina Supreme Court will take the case directly, it will save time and expenses in the legal fight.

“A lengthy trial and appeal process could jeopardize the valuable state asset that is Santee Cooper,” Baxley said. “We need immediate Supreme Court action on this fundamental issue. Credit rating agencies have already reacted to the pending circuit court litigation, citing the uncertainty it creates.”

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