Virginia-based Dominion Energy has finalized its buyout of SCANA Corp., the South Carolina utility that lost $5 billion due to a failed nuclear construction project.
V.C. Summer Unit 1 (SCE&G)
As a result of the purchase, Dominion, which in recent years has been bulking up on renewable energy projects, will now serve about 730,000 new power customers in North and South Carolina and parts of Georgia.
“Dominion Energy is pleased to add SCANA’s fast-growing, high-performing Southeastern businesses to our 18-state footprint,” Dominion chief executive Tom Farrell said in a written statement on Wednesday.
“Together, we are committed to providing safe, dependable, affordable and clean energy to the communities served by SCANA and to maintaining its excellent record of reliability and customer service,” Farrell said.
Before its nuclear power-related travails, SCANA was one of South Carolina's great legacy companies and its largest utility. But its fortunes took a turn in July 2017, when the company's $9 billion bid to build two new nuclear reactors in the state collapsed after years of construction delays and costs overruns.
The stunning collapse of the project at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County, South Carolina, led to investigative hearings in the state capitol and lawsuits filed by customers who'd been footing the bill for the project for years through repeated rate hikes.
Dominion Energy first proposed buying the utility in January 2017. The purchase plan was finally approved by the S.C. Public Service Commission last month.
The deal-making and regulatory approvals coincided with Dominion's advancing a plan to develop 3,000 MW of additional wind and solar projects – enough to power 750,000 homes – under Virginia's new Grid Transformation & Security Act.
Toward that end, in October, the utility, which serves 6 million customers in 19 states, requested bids for up to 500 MW of solar and onshore wind generation. Dominion plans to issue similar requests for proposals each year until the pledge has been met.
The first round of proposals focused on power purchase agreements and the purchase of development projects. The solicited bids covered energy, capacity and environmental attributes including Renewable Energy Certificates, and new solar and onshore wind facilities at least 5 MW in size.
To qualify, facilities had to be located in Virginia to be considered.
Company officials haven't said what the purchase of SCANA could mean in terms of future renewable energy projects in Dominion's new service area.
The company, however, is known to be aggressive in its embrace of renewable energy. It currently has 842 MW of solar power under development or in operation, and it also has a 12 MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project underway.
The ongoing Virginia expansion will add to the parent company's solar fleet, which is the fourth largest in the nation. The company already has 3,300 MWs of renewable energy resources either operational or under development across 10 states.