Critic: SCE&G confuses PSC, its customers

Lexington County Chronicle
June 9, 2016

By Jerry Bellune

S.C. Electric & Gas’ latest request sounds like it is controlling rising costs.

But its critics say that’s not true, that SCE&G needlessly complicates its request to make it difficult for customers to grasp and the Public Service Commission to understand or reject.

SCE&G’s request for a “fixed price” on future construction costs does not mean no future needs for additional costs to complete the two nuclear power plants in Fairfield County, says S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce President Frank Knapp.

SCE&G wants regulators to approve $852 million more for construction this year, Knapp said.

“I’m not clear what the rest of the $347 million they are asking for is all about.

“It’s difficult to understand and SCE&G wants it that way,” he said.

Knapp pointed to confusing language in SCE&G’s petition to the Public Service Commission stating “the fixed price offered represents an increase of $505.54 million in total cost of the project net of the $137.5 million adjustment in price that is otherwise part of the amendment and the reversal of the $85.5 million credit for liquidated damages credit.

“This $505.54 million represents approximately 7.4% of the forecasted cost schedule for all items needed to complete the units.”

The Chronicle asked SCE&G spokesman Eric Boomhower to explain what his company means.

Instead, he replied, “We have notified the Public Service Commission that we will elect an option in our amended contract with Westinghouse (which is constructing the units) that will allow us to fix the costs on the biggest remaining facets of the project.

“The fixed price option provides substantial value to our customers, investors and our company by limiting the risk of future cost increases,” he said.

The nuclear plants’ costs have reached $880 million more than planned.

But Knapp says SCE&G is asking for approval for more construction costs which will be passed on to its customers.

If regulators approve it, next year’s rate increases will be even higher.


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