Bill to cut $151M in rates

Bill to cut $151M in rates

Dominion could lose $227 million in profit on loans

Lexington County Chronicle
February 7, 2019

By Jerry Bellune

State lawmakers can cut ratepayers’ costs $151 million for SCANA’s $9 billion nuclear failure.

Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey’s bill will let the state secure $2.3 billion in bonds to pay off SCANA’s share of the failure on which ratepayers have already had to pay $2 billion.

Massey, who represents western Lexington County, told the Chronicle he expects SCE&G’s new owners, Dominion Energy, to oppose his bill that could cut its own borrowing costs.

Dominion can make 9.9% profit the Public Service Commission already approved if it does traditional bonding, according to SC Small Business Chamber CEO Frank Knapp.

A 9.9% profit on $2.3 billion would let Dominion pocket $227 million more of its ratepayers’ money.

Massey’s Senate bill 110 will let Dominion and other utilities use a process called “securitization” to recover billions in nuclear costs.

This lowers interest rates to about 3.3% or $75.9 million, but Dominion would receive no profit on it.

Lenders are willing to buy utility bonds at lower rates when they are secured by a state’s taxpayers.

Dominion doesn’t want the Public Service Commission to make them use it to pay for SCE&G’s failure.

Dominion stated during PSC hearings that it did not want to be made to ask lawmakers to secure the $2.3 billion in nuclear costs.

If it did, they said they would not buy SCANA, the Lexington County-based holding company that owns SCE&G and its failures.

With $227 million at stake, Dominion is expected to launch an expensive lobbying campaign to try to convince lawmakers not to pass Massey’s bill.

If the bill comes to a Senate and House vote, taxpayers should watch to see how their lawmakers vote.

Votes for Massey’s bill will lower rates. Votes against will boost Dominion profits at ratepayers’ expense.