July 18, 2016
A group is calling for the public to oppose some future SCE&G rate increases.
By Savannah Levins
COLUMBIA, SC (WLTX)- A group of small businesses, environmental groups and community leaders are joining together to try and stop your power bill from going up, and you can help.
The group, called “Stop The Blank Check,” says it wants the Public Service Commission to refuse SCE&G’s request to pass on $846 million in increased costs to pay for nuclear power plants under construction.
The Legislature gave SCE&G permission in 2007 to raise rates to pay for the plants before they open.
The new nuclear power plants in Jenkinsville are set to open in 2019 and 2020 will cost an estimated $14 billion, about $3 billion more than first thought.
“It’s not SCE&G paying these bills, it’s not the stock holders paying the bills,” said Frank Knapp, president of the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce. “It’s the consumer taking all the risk and paying all the bills. That’s unfair.”
Knapp is one of the heads of the “Stop The Blank Check” coalition. He says they need the public’s help to stop the rate hikes.
“We want to get the public involved,” he said. “They need to be involved, the public service commission needs to hear the angst the public that they have had enough of this.”
A state law passed in 2007 called the Base Load Review Act allows for these increases.
“Complain to the legislature, go to the public service commission hearings and speak out,” urged Susan Corbett, energy chair of the SC Sierra Club. “We have to make our voices heard.”
Corbett is also a part of the new coalition. She says it’s time for customers to put a foot down.
“The public service commission has allowed a very imprudent decision to spiral out of control,” she said, “and they need to fix it, and the legislature needs to fix it.”
You can file complaints on the public service commission’s website by clicking here.
State legislators’ contact information is also posted online.
For a list of your house members’ contact information, click here.
For a list of your senate members’ contact information, click here.
“Every one of your elected representatives and senators needs to hear it loud and clear that the law needs to be changed so this does not continue to happen and will not happen in the future when another utility wants to come along and use that same law,” Knapp said.
SCE&G spokesperson Eric Boomhower says even though the rate hikes may be inconvenient for people now, the reactors will benefit everyone in the long run.
“We’re not just building two new nuclear power plants,” he explained. “We’re building a clean and reliable energy future for the people who live in work in South Carolina today, as well as their children and their grandchildren. This is a long term project that will benefit our state for generations to come.”
Boomhower also pointed out that they’ve only gone 21.6% over budget, not 43%, as the “Stop The Blank Check” coalition is claiming.