Chet Wade, Jen Kostyniuk

Chet Wade, Dominion Energy's vice president of corporate communications, details the company's planned SCANA Corp. purchase. Jen Kostyniuk, Dominion Energy's communications director, looks on.

Chet Wade, the corporate communications vice president at Dominion Energy, said, in a Friday afternoon sit-down, that without portions of the Base Load Review Act intact, the Dominion Energy-SCANA Corp. deal is off.

Wade said if the Legislature or state regulators determine full refunds for South Carolina Electric & Gas customer are needed, there will be issues.

"A rollback of the Base Load Review Act would be a real problem for us," Wade said.

The average SCE&G residential customer has spent $1,406.83 on V.C. Summer since March 29, 2009, according to the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff.

Wade said Dominion Energy is fine with repealing the Base Load Review Act, a 2007 South Carolina law that allows utilities to pass power plant capital financing onto customers, if the repeal is strictly forward-facing.

"Our problem is if they want to make the repeal retroactive," Wade said.

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"Customers came first in this one," Chet Wade, Dominion Energy's vice president of corporate communications, said of the recently announced SCANA Corp. deal. "Some people have said it's take-it-or-leave-it. That's not what we're saying."

On Jan. 3, Dominion Energy, a Richmond, Virginia-based utilities giant, announced its intent to purchase SCANA, the Cayce-based parent company of SCE&G. The current deal – a total $14.6 billion purchase including $7.9 billion in stock-for-stock transformations – does not get SCE&G customers off the V.C. Summer repayment hook.

Recouping failed V.C. Summer expansion costs, SCANA estimated pre-Dominion Energy, would take 50 years. Prior projections placed it at 60 years. Dominion Energy, though, has offered a 20-year timeframe with less-than-current surcharges.

SCE&G customers are currently charged an extra 18 percent each month for V.C. Summer. Dominion Energy's plan, Wade said Friday, brings that number down to what, effectively, is a 13 percent rate. V.C. Summer charges would be reduced over the course of 20 years, with an initial plateau lasting until 2025.

For eight years, according to Dominion Energy information, the average customer would pay $18 a month for V.C. Summer. By 2035, customers would be paying $10 a month.

Several state representatives – Republicans Bill Taylor, Bart Blackwell and Bill Hixon – have said the average customer, a term Wade said was loosely defined, will be stuck paying an estimated $5,700 over the planned two decades.

Wade likened the repayment reduction to savvy financial planning: "If you're paying that additional 30 years, that adds up," he said. "I always use the example of the 15-year mortgage and the 30-year mortgage."

The shortened repayment window and the decreased charges, Wade said, are possible in tandem because of the money he said Dominion Energy plans to pump into V.C. Summer to correct it.

Dominion Energy's interest in SCANA, and thus SCE&G, stems from the companies' shared work history.

"We knew the people of SCANA because, when you have big storms in the electric community, you help each other out," Wade said, adding, "You get to know each other."

The nuclear reactors Dominion Energy operates in Virginia, Wade said, are the same type as V.C. Summer Unit 1, a Westinghouse reactor that began operating mid-80s.

Expanding farther into the Southeast was also a Dominion Energy goal, according to Wade. Dominion Energy currently owns pipelines in South Carolina. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline – a Dominion Energy operation that runs through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina – ends just short of the South Carolina border. Wade said "we'll see" if it ever crosses over.

"There's interest in South Carolina because of natural gas," he said.

Colin Demarest is a reporter with Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since November 2017. He is a New Jersey native and received his B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin