Lexington County Chronicle
June 2, 2016
By Jerry Bellune
S.C. Electric & Gas’ wants state regulators to let it cut a new nuclear deal.
But a business critic says the company is using “smoke and mirrors” in asking the state to let it spend more customers’ money.
With the nuclear plants’ costs reaching $880 million more than planned, the company says it wants to put a lid on project costs.
“SCE&G is asking for additional construction costs,” said S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce President Frank Knapp.
“The rate hike request will be for construction financing already approved.
“The fight should be on this petition for over $800 million. If approved, next year’s will be even bigger.”
Knapp said the so-called “fixed price” may lead people to think it means no future requests for more construction cost increases.
“That’s what SCE&G wants the public to think,” he said. But SCE&G won’t promise it won’t ask for more increases.
“Their fixed price claim is smoke and mirrors.”
In a request to the state Public Service Commission, the Cayce-based utility asked to change its agreements on the two V.C. Summer nuclear plants.
SCE&G has told its Westinghouse contractor that it will elect the Fixed Price Option under its contract.
It only needs agreement from state regulators and its partner, state-owned energy supplier Santee Cooper.
This would set:
• All costs for the remaining work on the two plants.
• Guarantee completion for Unit 2 by August 2019.
• Guarantee completion of Unit 3 by August 2020.
This would cap SCE&G’s total costs, the company said, at about $852 million over the $6.827 billion regulators approved.