SCANA CEO, Kevin Marsh and chief operating officer, Stephen Byrne retired on Tuesday, according to an announcement by the company.
The announcement, following months of criticism by legislative leaders, came one day after state House Speaker Jay Lucas called on Marsh to resign. The Darlington Republican issued the call as a special House committee met to investigate what caused two utilities to abandon two Jenkinsville nuclear reactors abruptly this summer.
South Carolina Electric and Gas, a SCANA subsidiary, and state-owned Santee Cooper have been under scrutiny since announcing they would abandon the project in late July.
Lucas issued the following statement Monday:
“SCANA’s mismanagement of the VC Summer nuclear facility has proven that the company cannot be trusted to promote or protect its consumers’ interests. On behalf of the South Carolina ratepayer, I believe SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh should resign immediately. This measure should have occurred long before now and without pressure from elected officials. Throughout the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee’s study, it has become increasing clear that neither South Carolina ratepayers nor the South Carolina House of Representatives can have faith in SCANA under Marsh’s leadership.”
The House committee and a similar Senate committee are mulling legislative action to minimize the damage to ratepayers, who already have paid more than $2 billion in rate hikes–and could pay more–for the project. House members are considering letting the Public Service Commission, which presides over rate hikes by many S.C. utilities, set an interim rate. House members may also take action against an existing 18 percent surcharge on SCE&G customers bills. That charge pays for the failed nuclear project.
“The math, simply on its face, is appalling,” said Rep. Kirkman Finlay, R-Columbia.
Also at issue is a 2007 law that made it easier for some utilities to hike rates to fund projects, whether they reach completion or not. Staff advised House members on Monday that simply abolishing the law might unintentionally harm ratepayers.
Instead, lawmakers may compose a new rate setting statute, in effect, preventing the use of the Base Load Review Act. Officials may also more clearly define such terms as prudency and imprudency, clarifying their legislative intent.
To date, SCANA officials maintain their spending, planning, and quitting the project were prudent.