$61 million in refunds for customers in South Carolina nuclear debacle

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A South Carolina judge has approved a second round of refunds for customers of a utility that poured billions of dollars into two nuclear power plants that never produced a watt of power.

About $61 million is being set aside for Dominion Energy South Carolina after the utility sold a number of properties as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit by 1.1 million of its customers over the never completed plants at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia.

Wednesday's agreement will split the $61 million based on power use by residential, business and industrial customers during a decade of planning and construction for the nuclear station, media outlets reported.

The checks will be similar in amount to a first round of refunds made in the lawsuit in 2019, which was based on $60 million from Dominion Energy.

The nuclear project was run by South Carolina Electric & Gas. It was bought by Virginia-based Dominion in 2019 after the local utility ran out of money to finish the reactors two years earlier.

Four executives of the utility or the company that was building the reactors have been indicted or have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the failure.

One remaining question is how will the refunds be issued. The 2019 refunds were all checks, and more than 10% of the money went unclaimed as checks as small as 4 cents weren't cashed or people who were supposed to get refunds couldn't be found.

Lawyers suggested power bill credits for amounts under $50 and former South Carolina Chief Justice Jean Toal, who was put in charge of the settlement negotiations, said she would think about it.