Securities agents sue 2 SC utility execs over nuclear fraud

1010 WINS Newsroom
February 27, 2020 - 7:22 pm

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Two former executives at a South Carolina utility lied repeatedly to regulators and investors about the progress of construction of two nuclear reactors taking hundreds of millions of dollars out of the pockets of investors and ratepayers, federal securities officials said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission sued SCANA Corp., its subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas along with the utility's former CEO Kevin Marsh and Executive Vice President Stephen Byrne on Thursday.

Dominion Energy of Virginia bought the South Carolina utility last year and was also included in the suit.

Criminal charges were not filed.

The intricately detailed 87-page complaint details numerous times that securities agents said Marsh and Byrne lied to regulators, investors on earnings calls and in press releases and presentations. The complaint said the two nuclear reactors the executives were in charge of building at the V.C. Summer site north of Columbia were going to be finished by the end of 2020 — a deadline to get more than $1 billion in federal tax credits.

An email from an unidentified SCANA employee said executives “got on our jet airplanes and flew around the country showing the same damn construction pictures from different angles and played our fiddles," according to the legal papers.

More than $9 billion was spent on the reactors, which never generated a watt of power before they were abandoned in the summer of 2017. State-owned utility Santee Cooper had a minority stake in the project and ended up $4 billion in debt.

Dominion Energy officials didn't respond to a request for comment and the court papers did not list attorneys for Marsh or Byrne.

Securities officials are asking that Dominion, as well as Marsh and Byrne, pay back any ill-gotten gains and an additional fine. They also want Marsh and Byrne to be banned from running any company registered with the commission.