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SC governor ready to 'remove' Santee Cooper board chairman

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SC governor ready to 'remove' Santee Cooper board chairman

In a stern letter, the governor of South Carolina has called for the resignation of the chairman of Santee Cooper's board of directors. The move appears to be related to fallout from the abandonment of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant and the lack of transparency around an audit that detailed fundamental problems at the failed expansion project.

Gov. Henry McMaster, in his Dec. 8 letter to Santee Cooper chairman Leighton Lord, voiced his frustrations about the state-owned utility withholding the Bechtel Corp. report and failure to cooperate with lawmakers by "providing the information necessary to resolve this crisis."

In early September, McMaster demanded the disclosure and publicly released the independent February 2016 report on V.C. Summer despite pleas of continued confidentiality by Santee Cooper, known legally as South Carolina Public Service Authority, and project partner SCANA Corp.

The audit warned of "fundamental" problems and "poor" construction productivity more than a year before the cancellation of the twin reactors. SCANA utility South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. and Santee Cooper decided July 31 to halt construction of two new 1,117-MW reactors at the V.C. Summer site in Fairfield County.

South Carolina lawmakers formed special committees, held several hearings and recently introduced legislation to protect ratepayers from the costs tied to the failed project. McMaster, however, points out that Lord was repeatedly absent from these proceedings and also noted that a recent local media report unveiled a draft version of the Bechtel report that also was not provided to the governor or lawmakers.

McMaster wrote that the information provided by Santee Cooper was "incomplete and misleading."

The governor called on Lord to resign or he would be removed as chairman by Dec. 18. Former Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter announced his retirement in late August amid the V.C. Summer fallout.