Contact: Shelley Cadena
Columbia, S.C., May 26, 2004 - South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (NYSE: SCG) announced today that it has received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to implement a two-step refilling plan, thereby removing restrictions on the wat er level at Lake Murray. SCE&G made the request after completing critical construction milestones on the backup dam. FERC granted SCE&G's request after concurrence by an independent board of consultants that critical safety issues have now been resolved.
"This is a day that we've all been looking forward to," said Neville Lorick, president of SCE&G. "This project has presented many obstacles, some we anticipated and some we didn't, but through innovative thinking and hard work, we have managed to stay on track and begin the return to normal operations at Lake Murray."
Lorick thanked and congratulated all who have made this success possible, including SCE&G's dam remediation team; Barnard Construction Co., the lead contractor on the backup dam project; Paul C. Rizzo Associates, the lead engineering design firm; the independent board of consultants; and the staff of FERC's division of dam safety and inspections.
SCE&G submitted a plan to FERC for refilling Lake Murray in two separate stages, the first allowing the lake to rise to elevation 351 until foundation work in the last remaining non-critical cell is completed. The lake will be held at that level for several weeks to allow time for homeowners and marinas to move docks back to their original locations according to the details in the refill plan approved by FERC. During that time SCE&G will monitor instrumentation on the dam structure to ensure safety. The second step will allow the lake to begin rising to normal operating levels (around 358 feet). Should any safety issues arise, appropriate measures will be taken, which may affect the refill plan.
"We realized from day one the impact that this drawdown could have on our neighbors and area businesses and did our best to minimize the time the water would be down," Lorick said. "While it's really up to Mother Nature to determine how quickly the lake rises, we're glad to be at the point where we can allow the water to rise and be confident that we put safety first. And we will continue to put safety first until we complete this project."
In 2002 FERC ordered SCE&G to lower lake levels while critical excavations were being done behind the existing earthen dam to build a solid foundation for the backup dam. Now that the most critical part of the foundation work is complete, the lake level will be allowed to begin rising. SCE&G officials say rainfall amounts will determine how quickly the lake level rises. SCE&G is committed to minimizing generation during the refilling period, except as required for minimum flow and critical system energy needs.
SCE&G is the largest subsidiary of SCANA Corporation, an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations, telecommunications and other energy-related businesses. Information about SCANA and its businesses is available on the Company's Web site at www.scana.com.