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Santee Cooper records $4.2B impairment in 2017 tied to nuclear abandonment

South Carolina utility Santee Cooper recorded a $4.21 billion impairment in 2017 after writing off the construction costs and nuclear fuel for the scrapped V.C. Summer nuclear reactors.

Santee Cooper, known legally as South Carolina Public Service Authority, said in its 2017 annual report that the impairment will be recorded as a regulatory asset and amortized through November 2056.

The state-owned utility and SCANA Corp. subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. decided July 31, 2017, to halt construction of the two new 1,117-MW reactors in Fairfield County after determining the project would cost more than double its original price tag and not meet the deadline for federal production tax credits.

In the annual report, Santee Cooper said the majority of its 45% share of the more than $9 billion already spent on the project was "financed with borrowed funds."

South Carolina lawmakers and the state's governor are seeking buyers for the utility to help pay off its $8 billion in total debt. NextEra Energy Inc. is believed to be among the suitors.

"Selling Santee Cooper has come up in the past, and we continue to believe that any objective evaluation will demonstrate our continued value as a public power utility," Santee Cooper interim President and CEO Jim Brogdon and acting Chairman William Finn wrote in the report.

Richmond, Va.-headquartered Dominion Energy Inc. has offered to buy SCANA and provide a lifeline to its shareholders and ratepayers, including $1.3 billion in customer refunds.