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Report: NextEra floating proposal to acquire Santee Cooper

NextEra Energy Inc. is gauging the interest of South Carolina state lawmakers in a $15.9 billion proposal to acquire Santee Cooper, The State newspaper reported on Feb. 15.

State Sens. Larry Grooms and Luke Rankin said NextEra executives have briefed them on plans to acquire the utility, legally known as South Carolina Public Service Authority, with plans to meet with other lawmakers before seeking their approval for a deal, according to the South Carolina newspaper.

Grooms reportedly said NextEra is willing to settle part of Santee Cooper's $8 billion in debt, the majority of which stems from the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project. NextEra is reportedly interested in Santee Cooper's power plants and transmission assets but not its lakes, water system or real estate holdings. The proposal would also include the freezing of power rates for five years. Grooms added that the deal would amount to $15.9 billion over a 30-year span, but not all would be up-front cash, according to the report.

In a separate Feb. 15 article by The Post and Courier, an unnamed source told the newspaper that NextEra and Pacolet Milliken Enterprises Inc. are "willing to offer" about $10 billion each to buy Santee Cooper. An unidentified third utility has also reportedly made an offer to manage Santee Cooper and work toward eventually buying it.

The Charlotte (N.C.) Business Journal reported Feb. 17 that Pacolet Milliken denied the report, saying that it "has not made any offers to purchase Santee Cooper."

In July 2017, Santee Cooper and SCANA Corp. subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. ceased construction of two new 1,117-MW reactors at the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant. Dominion Energy Inc. on Jan. 3, 2018 proposed acquire SCANA in stock-for-stock deal valued at about $7.9 billion, or $14.6 billion including the assumption of debt.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster was reportedly seeking buyers for Santee Cooper or its stake in Summer, identifying Dominion, Southern Co.and Duke Energy Corp. as potential suitors.