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#NukeGate: Indictments Imminent

Federal-state investigation rapidly zeroing in on targets …

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Last month this news site reported that the multi-jurisdictional investigation into South Carolina’s spectacularly failed government intervention in the energy industry – a.k.a. #NukeGate – was steadily gaining momentum.

As we noted at the time this ongoing probe – which involves both federal and state law enforcement assets – was making “considerable progress” thanks to  “steady stream” of information obtained by investigators.

We’re now told things are coming to a head … quickly.

Multiple indictments in connection with this probe are imminent, sources familiar with the situation tell us.

Who is going down?  

According to our sources, several current or former executives at crony capitalist public utility SCANA – one of the two entities involved in the #NukeGate debacle – are likely to be indicted during the holiday season.

What are the rumored charges?

It’s not immediately clear, but our sources were adamant that the forthcoming indictments would represent the “initial wave” of charges.  That would seem to imply several rounds of criminal consequences related to this fiasco – which has left hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians on the hook for a pair of nuclear reactors that now may never be built.

To recap: With the enthusiastic support of state legislators and regulators, SCANA and government-run utility Santee Cooper spent the past decade building two next generation AP1000 pressurized nuclear water reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C. at a cost of $9.8 billion.  This money was spent, but the reactors were never finished.  In fact they’re not even half-finished – with the cost to complete them reportedly ranging anywhere from $9-16 billion.

Unable to pony up that kind of cash, Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the project on July 31 – killing an estimated 5,600 jobs, squandering billions of dollars in investment (including more than $2 billion raised through rate increases on consumers) and throwing the state’s energy future into chaos.

Documents released in the fall revealed executives at the two utilities knew over a year-and-a-half ago that the project was doomed – yet continued to raise rates on consumers anyway.  In fact, ratepayers are still shelling out an estimated $37 million per month on these reactors.

These rate increases were authorized by the controversial “Base Load Review Act,” a piece of constitutionally dubious special interest legislation advanced by liberal “Republicans” – and then allowed to become law by former governor Mark Sanford.

Not surprisingly, many of the politicians who supported this special interest legislation are now running for their lives.

The ramp-up in the #NukeGate investigation comes at a precarious time for both SCANA and Santee Cooper.  For SCANA, it comes as the company’s stock price continues to plumb new depths – and as rumors of a sale intensify.

For Santee Cooper, it comes as governor Henry McMaster continues negotiating in the hopes of finding a buyer for the beleaguered state-owned energy provider.

Stakes are very high, in other words …

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