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Utility companies highlight problems leading to failure

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The retiring CEO of Santee Cooper said that abandoned nuclear project in Fairfield County would be finished someday.

For hours Monday, state lawmakers grilled those involved with the failed job about what went wrong. There are still no answers for customers about the two nuclear reactors.

Kevin Marsh, SCANA's CEO, said all decisions made were in the best interest of the customer. "Everybody agreed this was the best path forward,” Marsh said. “It would give them the least cost option if anything, going forward based on what we knew at the time."

Senate lawmakers heard roughly seven hours of testimony on the issue.

Utility executives said it would cost nearly $6.3 billion to complete the project, a cost Santee cooper’s, Lonnie Carter, said it couldn't afford.

"That cost plus the interest cost would be greater than our alternative," Carter said. Senator Mike Fanning and others questioned executives with both utilities. SCE&G said it raised its power rates by almost 20 percent over the course of the project. "The cost that we have charged the customer to this point has been for the financing cost,” Marsh said. “The construction dollars that were going to be incurred up to this point."

Now a plant left sitting abandoned with no plan to continue and no direct answers to customers.

"At some point, we're going to have some type of rate increase to finish the project,” Fanning said. “Or find a new source for fuel in some sense." The Senate panel plans to meet again about the issue on October 11th.

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