By Chuck Crumbo
Published Sept. 20, 2012
With nearly $4 billion worth of economic development projects announced for its principal subsidiary’s service area in South Carolina, SCANA expects growth to accelerate in the next few years.
“The growth rate is accelerating in our territories,” Jimmy Addison, executive vice president and CFO of Cayce-based SCANA, said Wednesday during a panel discussion at the Power & Gas Leaders Conference in New York.
Jimmy Addison, executive vice president and CFO of SCANA
Meanwhile, the number of electric and gas customers added by SCE&G has increased in each of the past three quarters, Addison said. SCANA’s natural gas unit in North Carolina, PSNC Energy, also has recorded higher numbers of customers in each of the past three quarters.
A hefty percentage of the new natural gas customers are those who converted from using propane, Addison said.
Natural gas now sells for about a third of propane and is expected to stay low for several years, prompting customers in rural areas to switch.
About 25% of the new customers in North Carolina converted from propane, while 12% of new S.C. customers formerly burned propane, Addison said.
SCE&G recorded a 1.5% increase in gas customers during the second quarter compared with 2011. For the first quarter, the customer count rose 1.3%, and for the fourth it grew 1.1%.
As far as electricity sales, SCE&G said in the second quarter, which ended June 30, it was serving approximately 669,000 electric customers, up 0.8% compared with the same period in 2011. The number of new electric customers rose 0.7% in the first quarter and 0.5% in the fourth.
“We’re encouraged by this,” Addison said. “I am also a conservative person. I am yet to call this a trend.”
Turning to the $9.8 billion new nuclear project at the V.C. Summer plant near Jenkinsville, Addison said SCE&G’s 55% share continues to run about $500 million below initial projections.
Addison credited the low cost of borrowing money for the savings.
When SCE&G sought approval from state regulators to build two reactor units at Summer, the company projected its financing costs would be about $1.5 billion.
With interest rates expected to remain low for the next several months, SCE&G now projects financing costs to be about $972 million, Addison said.
SCE&G’s share of the new units is projected to total less than $5.8 billion compared with original estimate of $6.3 billion.
State-operated Santee Cooper is SCE&G’s partner on the new nuclear project. The utilities jointly own the existing nuclear unit at V.C. Summer, which began operations in January 1984.