The former chief executive officer of South Carolina energy utility SCANA will be sentenced this week in connection with his role in a massive command economic debacle that deprived Palmetto State ratepayers of billions of dollars.
Kevin Marsh will appear before U.S. district court judge Mary Geiger Lewis, who is expected to sentence him to two years in a federal prison for the part he played in NukeGate – the botched construction of a pair of since-abandoned nuclear reactors that set ratepayers and taxpayers in the Palmetto State back more than $10 billion.
Lewis can obviously impose a harsher or more lenient sentence on Marsh if she wishes, but federal prosecutors have asked for two years on the wire and mail fraud charges Marsh pleaded guilty to back in February (after a delay of several months).
And Marsh has agreed to the sentence … and payment of a $5 million fine.
“I am sorry it has come to this,” he said in February. “I feel responsibility for my actions.”
Marsh’s hearing before Lewis is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday (October 7, 2021) at the Matthew J. Perry federal court house (901 Richland Street, Columbia, S.C.).
Marsh and former SCANA vice president Stephen A. Byrne have agreed to assist prosecutors as they focus their inquiries on Westinghouse – the contractor on the botched reactors. The next target in the ongoing investigation? Toshiba.
“Federal prosecutors are clearly focused on making cases against Westinghouse – the contractor on the construction of the failed reactors – and its parent company, Toshiba,” I wrote back in December.
Byrne pleaded guilty to wire fraud last July in connection with this inquiry.
To recap: SCANA (which has since been sold to Virginia-based Dominion Energy) and government-run utility Santee Cooper were partners on the NukeGate project, a definitional command economic failure that has left Palmetto State ratepayers and taxpayers staring down a mountain of debt.
Spurred on by the state lawmakers, these two utilities spent or borrowed more than $10 billion on the construction of a pair of pressurized water reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C. that were supposed to have come online in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Despite the massive cash outlay, the project was never finished – and the two utilities couldn’t afford the estimated $10-16 billion price tag necessary to complete it.
On July 31, 2017 Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the reactors. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed executives at both utilities knew the reactors were doomed for years and didn’t warn the public.
Instead, they allegedly concealed critical information from regulators while continuing to raise rates and rack up additional debt. Santee Cooper, for example, flat out lied on bond documents … and attempted to raise rates on its customers just a week before pulling the plug on the project.
SCANA and Santee Cooper customers have recovered pennies on the dollar in connection with several high-profile civil settlements – while the state lawmakers who enabled this fleecing continue to dictate the South Carolina’s energy policies.
To date, no Santee Cooper leaders have been held criminally accountable for their roles in the fiasco. And thanks to the support of liberal lawmakers like powerful S.C. judiciary committee chairman Luke Rankin, the state-owned utility continues to rack up exorbitant debt while conducting its business behind closed doors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that New York Knights’ lid from ‘The Natural‘ pictured above).
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