How Regulators Can Deny SCANA’s Latest Ploy

How Regulators Can Deny SCANA’s Latest Ploy

Lexington County Chronicle
September 7, 2017

By Frank Knapp Jr.

SC Electric and Gas customers number one goal is that they not to be stuck with nuclear construction costs already incurred.

Like last year, I will intervene in SCE&G’s petition to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to make the customers pay for all construction costs. My goal is to have most if not all costs paid by SCE&G’s owners, SCANA investors.

At House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee meeting, Columbia attorney and former state Public Service Commissioner Scott Elliott proposed an idea that should be given serious consideration.

  1. SCE&G elected to file with the PSC to build its nuclear plants under the Base Load Review Act (BLRA) as opposed to an alternate regulatory law. SCE&G might have chosen the alternate law to authorize it to build nuclear plants. It offered more protections to customers and fewer benefits to SCE&G.
  2. SCE&G took advantage of every benefit under the BLRA to include prudence in deciding to build not one but two nuclear plants, recovering billions of dollars in cost overruns and 9 rate increases of more than $1.4 billion from customers who will never see one kilowatt of electricity or its promised savings from the plants. The rate hikes paid for construction financing costs not the actual construction costs.
  3. SCE&G is now out of compliance with the BLRA according to motions from the Office of Regulatory Staff to the PSC.
  4. Because SCE&G is out of compliance, the company cannot use the abandonment section of the BLRA to ask regulators to give them permission to charge customers for construction costs plus 10.25 percent profit.
  5. Having elected to use the BLRA benefits, SCE&G is legally precluded from recovering capital costs for the abandoned nuclear plants under any other state law.
  6. Because SCE&G cannot use the BLRA abandonment section or the benefits under traditional regulatory law, SCE&G is not entitled to recover costs for the abandoned nuclear plants from customers at all.

Mr. Knapp is the President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.