As hearings into South Carolina’s failed nuclear project began last November, it was uncertain whether potential star witness Carlette Walker would even testify. Subpoenaed and deposed by state regulators, the former South Carolina Electric & Gas vice president of nuclear finance administration had already made clear how she felt about the utility’s handling of the V.C. Summer nuclear project.
In no uncertain terms, the executive manager and lead accountant—who had earned a salary in the middle six figures—had strongly expressed her opinion in her deposition that top executives not only badly managed the project, but had lied publicly about its schedule and the estimated cost to complete. Walker had named names—most notably that of former CEO Kevin Marsh, whom she called a “liar”—and was forthcoming in telling regulators what she knew about alleged improprieties.
Certainly, SCE&G officials didn’t want her testifying before the South Carolina Public Service Commission’s hearings into the nuclear debacle last November. As the time for her testimony arrived, SCE&G was not happy that she was testifying, says Tom Clements, who was in attendance as a senior adviser to Friends of the Earth, a party to the case. “There was definitely an air of nervousness that she was being believed. That was palpable.”
Now in public, surrounded by SCE&G employees, again Walker did not hold back, reiterating her allegations in detail. Notably, she admitted that she was complicit in sharing misinformation with the PSC, alleging that SCE&G executives had coerced her to submit false testimony about the project’s estimated cost to complete.
Eventually, Walker testified, she decided she “was not going to support their decision to lie and deceive” about the true status of the V.C. Summer project. She was not the only insider to testify about the utility’s failure to hold the contractors accountable and keep the project on track. But as a top executive who reviewed and approved every bill, her testimony stood alone and became the emotional fulcrum that may have edged SCE&G toward a $2-billion settlement with the commission.
After repeated attempts to contact Walker, her attorney, Jake Moore, of Moore Taylor, Columbia, S.C., told ENR that she cannot cooperate with media requests for information. One possible reason for that may be the ongoing federal investigation into SCE&G’s public statements about the project.
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