Out-of-state giant may influence power rates

Lexington County Chronicle
August 30, 2018

By Jerry Bellune

State regulators have handed an out-of-state power company a gift.

Dominion Energy will be able to influence future decisions on how much you pay for SC Electric & Gas’s abandoned nuclear plant.

That’s the view of Frank Knapp Jr., SC Small Business Chamber CEO and an intervenor in the Public Service Commission hearings.

“Today’s ruling from the SC Public Service Commission gives Dominion Energy the undeserved ability to influence the future PSC decision on how much SCE&G ratepayers will pay for the abandoned nuclear plants in Fairfield County,” he said.

“Dominion Energy had no part in the construction decisions or decision to abandon the nuclear plants.”

“Dominion is not a customer of SCE&G. Dominion also has a financial interest in influencing the PSC decision unrelated to the facts regarding the construction and abandonment of the nuclear plants. Dominion’s participation in the PSC hearing about the ratepayers’ obligation to pay for the nuclear plant construction costs is thus not fair to the SCE&G customers.”

Knapp, who also owns an advertising agency, estimated Dominion spent millions of dollars on advertising to convince SCE&G ratepayers and indirectly the PSC that its offer to acquire SCANA provides great value (i.e. a $1000 check) to individual customers but only if SCE&G is allowed to recover much of the nuclear plant construction costs. Thus, allowing Dominion to be a party to the abandonment hearing could unfairly prejudice the Commissioners in their decision regarding financial responsibility for the failed construction project. The public will never know if the Dominion offer to SCE&G customers influenced the PSC decision in this matter, a decision that will impact ratepayers for decades to come.

Tom Clements of Friends of the Earth says his group supports a PSC hearing to consider evidence on imprudent SCE&G spending on nuclear construction.  Another hearing would consider the proposed sale of SCANA to Dominion, “By denying this two-step hearing process, the evidence on both issues will be intertwined and more difficult for the public to follow,” he said. “It additionally may introduce an unwelcome bias toward the sale.”

ORS Director Nanette Edwards said her agency is watching carefully what happens but has taken no position on separating the two PSC issues.

Lexington County Rep. Mac Toole said, “The PSC has made a mistake.”

“Dominion should not be given the right to have any influence. The employees and customers of SCE&G are being over looked.”

“It is a shame and disgrace,” he said, “but it is all about money.”


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