South Carolina Utility Chief Departs After Nuclear Project Fails
The head of South Carolina’s state-owned electric utility announced his retirement on Friday, less than a month after the utility abandoned a nuclear project that was stymied by delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns.
Lonnie Carter will step down from his post as chief executive and president of utility, Santee Cooper, Mr. Carter and Santee Cooper’s directors said at a specially convened meeting. He has spent more than 13 years in the position and more than three decades with the utility.
Mr. Carter is leaving amid calls by state politicians for further management shake-ups and legislative investigations on what caused the nuclear expansion project known as V. C. Summer to fail after roughly a decade in the making.
The Santee Cooper board voted on July 31 to halt construction of the project, once considered the start of a renaissance for the United States nuclear power industry. Soon after the decision, 5,000 workers on the site were laid off, leaving behind two unfinished nuclear reactors.
Santee Cooper owns 45 percent of the project, and 55 percent is owned by a unit of the Scana Corporation.
About $9 billion had been spent on construction when V. C. Summer was canceled. Costs were estimated to soar 75 percent over the initial budget, to as much as $24 billion, before completion.
The South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives created special committees this month to investigate V. C. Summer’s demise.
During questioning at the inaugural session of the Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, Mr. Carter said inefficiency and secrecy by the project’s former lead contractor was largely to blame.