SCANA, SCE&G settles $2 billion class-action lawsuit in failed V.C. Summer project
CAYCE, SC (WIS) - SCANA and SCE&G announced Saturday that they have reached an agreement with plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the utility following the aborted V.C. Summer nuclear project in 2017.
The plaintiffs, Richard Lightsey, LeBrian Cleckley, and Phillip Cooper, all filed suit months after SCANA abandoned the V.C. Summer nuclear plant in Fairfield County in August 2017, citing that SCANA and its partner Santee Cooper “actively concealed” any idea that the nuclear project would fail.
The lawsuit also addressed other issues, including arguments related to the Base Load Review Act and the large bonuses SCANA executives obtained during that time.
“In reaching this agreement, we have been able to secure more than $2 billion in relief and accountability for the people of South Carolina,” Former United States Attorney, and lead counsel for the certified class, J. Preston Strom, Jr., said on the settlement. "We thank the Attorney General’s office for their hard work throughout this case and particularly in securing the return of funds set aside for executive bonus payments to the ratepayers.”
Dominion Energy helped SCANA provide “financial resources necessary to make this restitution,” the release said.
Jim Stuckey, SCANA’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, issued the following statement: “We are pleased that we were able to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution of this matter so that we can keep our focus on moving forward with the merger with Dominion Energy.”
The utility has agreed to a Common Benefit Fund, with the following amounts to be distributed to the class members:
- A credit of up to $2 billion in future electric rate relief will inure to the benefit of the Common Benefit Fund in favor of class members over a period of time established in the proceeding pending before the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (the PSC); and
- A cash payment of $115,000,000.00, which will include the full value of the SCANA rabbi trust funded in January 2018 that was created in whole or in part for executive change-in-control payments; and
- Transfer of SCE&G owned real estate or sales proceeds from the sale of real properties, including among others, the Ramsey Grove Plantation; the original Charleston Gas & Light Building at 141 Meeting Street in Charleston; and certain Otarre properties in Cayce.
But the settlement is not complete - before any funds are dispersed, it must be given a final approval and final order by the South Carolina Public Service Commission’s approval of the SCANA/Dominion Energy merger.
SCANA and SCE&G deny the allegations made in the lawsuit but have agreed to resolve this matter. The ulility also tried to have the lawsuits dismissed, but failed.
“The settlement reached today is the result of countless hours of work by our office seeking to make SCE&G customers whole for the abandonment of the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project," South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said. "I am proud of the hard work of my entire team in bringing about this result, starting with the aggressive posture of Solicitor General Bob Cook regarding constitutional issues related to the Base Load Review Act, and continuing through tough settlement negotiations to bring resolution to civil matters related to these issues.”
All current and former SCE&G customers effected by the failed nuclear plant will receive notification about their rights under the settlement.
“Eligible settlement class members will receive compensation in the form of a bill credit or a payment of an amount to be distributed by a court-approved class action administrator. Upon the approval of the settlement announced today, the lawsuit will be dismissed by agreement and the claims of SCE&G ratepayers will be resolved,” the news release says.
You can read the entire news release on the settlement here.
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