The Latest: No decision on relief for utility customers

Markets Associated Press

The Latest on a failed nuclear project in South Carolina (all times local):

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2:30 p.m.

South Carolina regulators say they need to thoroughly review the possibility of forcing a utility to stop billing customers for a failed nuclear project they've been funding since 2009.

The Public Service Commission voted Thursday to appoint a special officer to arrange a hearing on the Office of Regulatory Staff's request — essentially sending the request to regulatory court.

The state agency that represents the public interest in utility cases wants to force South Carolina Electric & Gas to halt the nuclear surcharges that now make up 18 percent of residential customers' electric bills. SCE&G has sought to have that request dismissed.

SCE&G and state-owned Santee Cooper abandoned the nuclear power project in July after jointly spending nearly $10 billion on construction and charging customers more than $2 billion in interest fees on the debt.

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Objections to the commission's eventual decision could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

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9 a.m.

A new lawsuit accuses one of the co-owners of a defunct nuclear construction project in South Carolina of defrauding its investors and lying to them about the venture's progress.

The lawsuit filed in federal court late Wednesday accuses SCANA and some of its chief executives of artificially driving up their stock prices by "issuing false and misleading statements to investors" about the status of a now-scuttled nuclear reactor project at V.C. Summer.

SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. and state-owned utility Santee Cooper halted the project this summer after chief contractor Westinghouse filed bankruptcy.

The suit seeks class-action status on behalf of anyone who acquired SCANA stock between January 2016 and the first part of this month. A SCANA spokesman didn't immediately return an email seeking comment.