Feature Image: The State
Even though it has been almost two years since the halt of construction on the V.C. Summer nuclear construction project, no charges have been filed against anyone involved.
The investigation appears to be ongoing as former CEO of Santee Cooper Lonnie Carter is set to be interviewed by federal law enforcement agents regarding the failed project costing Santee Cooper direct-serve and cooperative customers billions of dollars. The failed project sparked investigations just months after construction ended from the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, State Law Enforcement Division, S.C. Attorney General’s Office and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The timing of Carter’s interview indicates that he is not a target of the investigation, but instead, participating as a cooperating witness. These investigations typically begin at the bottom and are built up over time to ensure investigators can guarantee a guilty plea from the main targets.
FBI agents visited the abandoned nuclear site in May 2018 and have attended public hearings at the State House and Public Service Commission to hear testimonies regarding the project from key utility executives.
When asked for a comment, Carter’s defense attorney, Columbia lawyer Greg Harris refused to comment. Harris is being paid $475 an hour to represent Carter which is ultimately being paid for by Santee Cooper customers both direct serve and coop as Santee Cooper remains an entity of the state. Comments were also declined from Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore, SCE&G’s new owner, Dominion Energy, and the Assistant U.S. Attorney Katie Stoughton.
Carter’s deposition has been delayed until mid-July, but it is likely this is just the beginning of this ongoing investigation and makes it clear that the criminal investigation remains active while customers continue to pay the legal bills.