Fairfield County gets $99M in settlement with Dominion

“We were never looking for a cash settlement. We were looking for projects that would lay the groundwork for the expansion and improvement of Fairfield County as well as economic development.”

Jason Taylor, Fairfield County Administrator

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County council voted Monday night to accept a settlement with Dominion Energy stemming from the cancelled V.C. Summer nuclear construction project and the fee in lieu of taxes agreement entered into by the parties in July of 2010.

The settlement ends nearly four years of extensive negotiations between Dominion and the county with County Administrator Jason Taylor and the county’s Economic Development Director Ty Davenport spearheading the negotiations for the county.

“We never liked to approach this as a punitive action against Dominion,” Taylor said. “We knew we had to move forward with Dominion in a partner-like relationship. They have a nuclear power plant here and they are a power provider here. We needed a positive relationship moving forward. We approached this asking how we could get an equitable settlement that’s a win-win for both of us. So they’re reinvesting in their territory (Fairfield County) to create tax payers for us, rate payers for them and jobs for our citizens which means a better quality of life for our citizens. That’s how we can truly move forward together in a partnership.

“We were never looking for a cash settlement,” Taylor said. “We were looking for projects that would lay the groundwork for the expansion and improvement of Fairfield County as well as economic development.”

 “Three years and two councils ago we made a commitment to the citizens to press this issue and see it through, and today that occurred,” Billy Smith, county council chair when the lawsuit was initiated, told The Voice after the meeting in a phone call from Louisiana. “The outcome is not perfect, but is in large part a win-win for all. The County will be able to undertake some strategic projects long overdue and neglected, and Dominion should benefit from the County’s growth in its territory. Credit is due to all involved. Now the real work of getting these projects right begins.”

Those projects include a new wastewater treatment plant near the Broad River, upgrades to the industrial park at the Fairfield Commerce Center and extensive work on the I-77 mega-site. Dominion also committed to a group of community development projects for Ridgeway as well as five years of bond payment relief for the $24 million Fairfield Facilities Corporation bond that current council member Mikel Trapp helped pass in 2013.

“Fairfield County enjoyed a long fruitful relationship with SCE&G for many years prior to cancellation of the nuclear project, and we at the county look forward to a long, fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship with Dominion Energy for many years to come,” Taylor said.

It was a priority for Taylor to finalize the settlement before he leaves his county administrator’s position in June to assume the Town Manager’s position at the Town of Winnsboro.

But Taylor not only had to negotiate with Dominion, he had to also negotiate a settlement that the four majority voting bloc on council – Moses Bell, Mikel Trapp, Shirley Green and Tim Roseborough – would vote to accept.

“It’s a win-win for Fairfield and Dominion Energy,” Davenport said. “Fairfield benefits because this investment will increase the number of jobs and homes in the county, and Dominion benefits because companies locating in Fairfield County will need energy.”

“Dominion Energy had some of the best lawyers in the country representing it on this case, and because of their vision and hard work we were able to craft an incredibly unique agreement that benefits both our client and theirs,” said Jack McKenzie, one of the attorneys representing Fairfield County.  “Ten years from now, neither side will remember this as a settlement of a lawsuit, but as the establishment of a partnership that succeeded in improving both the lives of the citizens of Fairfield County and the bottom line for the stockholders of Dominion Energy.” 

“I am very impressed with Dominion Energy and the care with which it handled this litigation,” current County Council Chair Moses Bell said in a prepared statement.  “It is clear that Dominion is committed to becoming a friend to South Carolina and particularly Fairfield County.  I think it’s time that we all move on from the utility bashing that has taken place over the past three years, and continue to develop plans for our future together so that we all benefit.”

Below is a breakdown of the settlement in projects and cash:

$45,690,118 – Wastewater treatment plant  

$6,475,000 – Grading of the mega-site   

$3,196,000 – Grading of the Commerce Center    

$1,750,000 – Escrow for rate relief (economic development)  

$2,000,000 – Spec Bldg. – Parcel 9 at Commerce Center 

$2,200,000 – Teachers’ Village

$7,550,920 – Bond payments (for 5 years of payments for 2013 $24M bond) 

$2,500,000 – Ridgeway Park and Rec Center 

$1,000,000 – Martin Luther King Monument on Mt. Zion grounds 

$27,112,500 – Cash (payments to attorneys)

$99,474,538 – TOTAL                   

This is a breaking story. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Comments

  1. Pam Laird says

    Really amazing what our present leaders of Fairfield County have done! Unfortunate County Administrator Jason Taylor who was so instrumental in making this happen is leaving the county position!! Many thanks also to Ty Davenport for his diligence and expertise!! Watchful eyes will be on the next administrator, hopefully they will be capable of producing the same success of our present leader!!

  2. Ernes E. Yarborough, J.D. says

    This is not a win for the county. The attorneys are taking a great chunk of the funds. Just look at the break down. This no justice. People in Fairfield County continue to become ill with all sorts of cancers and you call this justice? A million dollars for a monument on Mount Zion grounds when the Mount Zion project is in doubt. This failed leadership at its finest.

  3. Ernest Eugene Yarborough says

    Correction: “This is failed leadership at its finest.”

  4. Rick says

    This is not perfect, and justice rarely is. There is only one reason to go to civil court, and that’s for money. Civil settlement is never about who’s right or wrong. It’s an event that is concluded only by the award of money. Legal counsel starts at $10K, and only goes up from there. At some point, math crosses paths with logic.

  5. Jeff Schaffer says

    Everyone is entitled to their perspective and perception of what this means and what might eventually occur. We all hope for the best, My take for what it’s worth… When you give responsibility to certain individuals who never had to sign a check greater than their rent or their light bill. You can only imagine what they will do with Millions in cash!!!

  6. Wow, attorneys, you just got to love their greed. Pitiful poor county and they got the nerve to rip off the county after an unfortunate happening for the nuke plant. Why doesn’t BLM pay for the statue or just remove the CSA statute to private property. Glad no money will be wasted for the excellent smooth roads here.

  7. How come the projects are itemized, but the names of the law firms receiving $27,112,500 aren’t?

  8. This is what happens when you let lawyers come in and smell cash settlements. Everyone else gets screwed. All settlements pail in comparison to the loss of SCE&G to the region, the loss of benefit of the new nuclear unit, and the money that was spent on a project that did not finish due to litigation. I did not live in the area long but I met some of SCE&G leadership through my church while there. They genuinely cared about the residents. When I got out of school and could not find work, an SCE&G executive gave me a direction and helped start my career. He never asked anything in return and donated his limited time to help. I barely spoke to him after that beyond sending him the occasional thank you.

    For those talking about cancer, the new units never even saw fuel. How can increased cancer rates that would take 25 to 30 years to develop be caused by new units that never saw radioactive material delivered? Doesn’t it make more sense for these cancer rates to be unrelated to nuclear plants that contain all radioactive material in a closed environment?

    Instead of receiving billions of dollars in return on investment over the life of these units, now at least 4 billion is unrecoverable (if not more) and settlements have been paid out that pail in comparison to the investments made. Justice would be litigation against the Sierra club for the damages their careless litigation and advertising campaigns caused to the state of south carolina and fairfield county. If anyone had asked to review alternate bids for the project, they probably would have seen that these cost increases were not completely unexpected although SCE&G probably hoped that costs would not increase. The Sierra Club doesn’t care about any of that though. They just care about using the zeal of their rank and file members that want to do good to line the pockets of the lawyers in leadership of the group.

    https://foe.org/news/2017-06-sierra-club-and-friends-of-the-earth-file-formal-req/

  9. Concerned says

    Ok, I understand the settlement very well, great for the county, but what about the citizens so the county that lost all this money over the years paaying expensive electric bills? This is not a win for the citizens.

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