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Ex-SCANA CEO gets 2 years in prison over failed project that cost customers money

Kevin Marsh was sentenced in federal court on charges related to the failed VC Summer nuclear project in Jenkinsville, South Carolina.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Former CEO and chairman of SCANA has been sentenced to two years in prison for lying about the status of a failed project to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina.

US District Judge Mary Lewis handed down the sentence on Thursday in Columbia to Kevin Marsh. He'll serve the two years followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. 

There is no parole in the federal system.

The sentence follows a guilty plea that stemmed from the failed VC Summer nuclear plant in Jenkinsville, South Carolina. 

Marsh, 66, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in February 2021. He also agreed to pay $5 million in restitution and to fully cooperate with law enforcement until the investigation and prosecution related to the VC Summer project are over. During the sentencing on Thursday, Judge Lewis also imposed an additional fine of $200,000.

Evidence presented by federal prosecutors showed Marsh intentionally defrauded taxpayers so SCANA could obtain and retain rate increases imposed on customers and qualify for up to $2.2 billion in tax credits.

“Due to this fraud,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “an $11 billion nuclear ghost town, paid for by SCANA investors and customers, now sits vacant in Jenkinsville, S.C. Hopefully, this prosecution will deter other corporate fraud in the future.”

In 2008, SCANA's plan was to build two additional nuclear reactors at the Fairfield County site. Construction began in 2013 on Units 2 and 3 -- the first reactors to start construction in the United States in 30 years -- at an estimated cost of $9.8 billion for both units.

Units 2 and 3 were scheduled to go online in April 2020 and December 2020, respectively, but construction delays and cost overruns lead SCANA's partner on the project, Westinghouse, to declare bankruptcy in 2017. SCANA decided to stop construction on the Units and abandoned the project later that year, leaving over 5,000 temporary and full-time employees without a job.

A federal investigation into the project alleged Marsh and others in the company hid the problems related to VC Summer, deceived regulators and customers in order to keep the project going, and money coming into the company.

During this time, SCANA had applied for and received multiple rate increases that led to inflated customer bills by making false and misleading statements. Federal prosecutors said that instead of paying for the project, SCANA took $500 million raised from the higher bills and passed it along to shareholders using dividends.

Marsh is the first defendant in the case to be sentenced in the investigation.