Former SC utility executive to plead guilty in two courts

by Jeremy

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The utility executive who spent billions of dollars on two South Carolina nuclear plants that never generated a single watt of power is expected to plead guilty to federal and state charges in two courts Wednesday. Former SCANA Corp. CEO Kevin Marsh is scheduled to be in federal court in Columbia at 10 a.m. Wednesday to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, prosecutors say. He will then head to Spartanburg in the afternoon for a hearing on a state charge. In a plea deal Marsh signed last year, prosecutors said they would ask for 18 to 36 months in prison — all spent in federal custody instead of a state prison, per Marsh’s request. Marsh would also pay $5 million in restitution, with $3 million due before sentencing. A judge will hand down the final sentence after the investigation concludes.

Marsh and other executives insisted the project to build the two reactors at the V.C. Summer site north of Columbia was on track ever since it started in 2008.

But prosecutors said that as the project lagged, Marsh repeatedly lied to investors, regulators, and the media, insisting the reactors would be making power by a 2020 deadline to get $1.4 billion in federal tax credits needed to keep the $10 billion project from overwhelming SCANA and its subsidiary, South Carolina Electric & Gas.

An independent report commissioned by SCANA in 2015 estimated the reactors would not be finished in 22 years. Executives fought to get the estimate removed from the copy of the message shared with utility Santee Cooper, which held a 45% stake in the new reactors, prosecutors said.

The state-owned utility ended up with $4 billion in debt from the project. Lawmakers are still arguing over whether to sell or reorganize the utility.

Dominion Energy of Virginia bought out SCANA in 2019 after the nuclear debacle crippled the company.

In December, the Securities and Exchange Commission said both SCANA and its subsidiary agreed to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the SEC in February for $137.5 million, including a $25 million civil penalty.

Former SCANA Executive Vice President Stephen Byrne pleaded guilty to federal charges similar to Marsh’s in July. He is also awaiting sentencing.

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