COLUMBIA -- Dominion Energy announced the completion of its merger Jan. 2 with a South Carolina utility drowning in debt after the failure of a nuclear construction project.

The Virginia-based company said that it had finalized the deal to pay $6.8 billion for SCANA Corp.'s stock and also assumed SCANA's consolidated net debts of $6.6 billion.

Dominion was the only buyer that expressed interest in SCANA, the parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas, following the company's abandonment of a nuclear reactor construction project at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

Along with state-owned utility Santee Cooper, a minority owner in the project, SCANA said in the summer of 2017 that it was shuttering the effort following the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.

The implosion spawned multiple lawsuits, some by ratepayers claiming company executives knew the project was doomed and misled consumers as well as regulators as they petitioned for a series of rate hikes. State and federal authorities also are investigating the debacle.

According to Dominion, SCANA's operations will be housed within a new operating segment, Southeast Energy Group, to be headed up by P. Rodney Blevins, senior vice president and chief information officer at Dominion Energy. Blevins will report directly to Dominion chairman Tom Farrell and work in Cayce, South Carolina, where SCANA is currently headquartered.

Several SCE&G executives are staying on in similar roles, including SCE&G President Keller Kissam and Iris Griffin, SCANA's chief financial officer. SCANA CEO Jimmy Addison is serving in an advisory role until his retirement in February.

Before the deal, Dominion was already among the largest electric and gas utilities in the country. According to the utility, it now serves 7.5 million customers in 18 states. Dominion already owns a South Carolina gas pipeline, which it bought from SCANA in 2014.

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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