Day 5 of the PSC Hearing (11-7-18)

Day 5 of the PSC Hearing (11-7-18)

Mr. Kollen continued as ORS witness today.

Mr. Knapp started the morning questioning Mr. Kollen about the Toshiba guarantee funds (about $1.1 billion penalty for Westinghouse walking away from the nuclear project). Dominion, if it acquires SCE&G, has proposed giving an immediate cash refund to customers by using the Toshiba guarantee money.

Mr. Knapp asked Mr. Kollen if SCE&G actually had the money that Toshiba already paid. The utility has said that it has already used the money for other purposes.  Mr. Kollen said that SCE&G did not now have that money so the utility would have to borrow the $1.1 billion which the ratepayers would have to pay back over time with interest.  Mr. Knapp characterized this “cash back” payment as a consumer loan which Dominion has not disclosed to the public  in its advertising.

Mr. Kollen did not agree with the Dominion attorney who opined that SCE&G would have to file for bankruptcy if the ORS proposed rates were approved by the PSC. Mr. Kollen said that SCE&G could survive as a stand-alone company or have other suitors come forward if the ORS proposal was approved.

Under questioning by a Commissioner, Mr. Kollen said that his estimate of SCE&G employees to be let go if Dominion acquires SCE&G to be over 600.

Mr. Kollen also said that should SCE&G file for bankruptcy, a federal district court has ruled in the past that a bankruptcy judge does not set rates for a utility in bankruptcy. The Public Service Commission of the state would still maintain the responsibility to set utility rates.

Michael Seaman-Huhn was the next ORS witness. He testified as to his comparing the impact of rates on consumers under the 4 different options proposed by ORS and SCE&G/Dominion.

In response from Mr. Knapp’s questioning, Mr. Seaman-Huynh pointed out that the SCE&G customers would have their rates reduced another 5+% from current rates (which have already been reduced temporarily by 15%) if the ORS proposal is approved. All the other plans would roll back rates less than the temporary 15% rate reduction already in place.  So, when the temporary 15% reduction ends on December 21st, approval of any plan other than the one by ORS would result in customers seeing a rate increase from current rates.

Day 6 starts on Thursday.

Frank Knapp