Lexington County Chronicle
August 24, 2017
By Jerry Bellune
Public advocates want SCANA to pay for its $9 billion nuclear mistakes.
State officials should hold the company responsible for imprudent project management, said the Stop the Blank Check Coalition.
“Shareholders should not be allowed to escape financial responsibility, leaving ratepayers – some of whom are elderly, disabled or live in poverty – to absorb the substantial burden arising from poor decisions and inadequate project oversight,” the coalition said.
“We encourage a strong coordinated legislative and regulatory response to this situation to protect ratepayers and the broader public interest,” the group said.
The coalition is made up of the League of Women Voters, S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce and six other local groups.
The Chronicle asked SCANA spokesman Eric Boomhower why his company believes its customers should pay for its management mistakes. He had not replied at press time.
Repeal state law
The coalition wants legislators to repeal a state law, the Base Load Review Act.
That law allowed SCANA to charge its customers $74 million last year for cost overruns at its twin nuclear reactor construction in Fairfield County.
“This law has tied the hands of agency officials, in particular the Office of Regulatory Staff,” the coalition said, “and prevented them from fully addressing their mission to consider the interests of ratepayers.”
The coalition blamed the Public Service Commission which regulates SCANA’s power company, S.C. Electric & Gas, for the current crisis and in secret approving millions in rate hikes.
Bias to utilities?
The coalition charged that regulators’ actions suggest they favor utilities and want voters or the governor to pick state regulators including members of the Public Utility Review Commission and state-owned Santee Cooper, a 45% partner in the failed nuclear project.
“No person should serve on the PSC if that person has any personal, family or business association with a utility,” the coalition said.
The group urged that:
• Utilities be barred from making political donations. • Santee Cooper be regulated like other utilities.
• The Office of Regulatory Staff be assigned to protect customers and the public, not the utilities.