Lawmaker will seek hearing on rate increases

Lawmaker will seek hearing on rate increases

Lexington County Chronicle
August 18, 2016

By Jerry Bellune

State lawmakers are prohibited from involvement after rate hikes are filed.

But state Rep. Todd Atwater, R-Lexington, says there are issues he can talk about.

“Our citizens deserve better than this,” he said about S.C. Electric & Gas’s $1.1 billion rate increases for nuclear construction overruns.

“Nuclear power plants, mainly due to extreme and often unnecessary regulations, are expensive.

“However, like any other project, the costs are predictable and so-called overruns can be anticipated.”

The company should bear the costs, not the rate payers, he said. If this is to save customers money, it should not cost eight increases before the project is complete.

“It is a betrayal of our trust in the system,” he said.

“When we grant monopoly status in return for certain guarantees in the power industry, we don’t grant a license for rate abuse.”

Atwater was the only member of the county’s legislative delegation to respond to a Chronicle request for comment.

Atwater said he will urge Rep. Bill Sandifer, R-Seneca, chair of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, to have congressional style hearings on the issue.

The committee has jurisdiction over the Base Load Review Act and other energy concerns in the state.

These include the aging electrical grid delivery system, competition and the Public Service Commission.

“We must have more transparency in the process and our citizens should feel the Public Service Commission is protecting them and not protecting the profits of corporations.”

Atwater said Stop the Blank Check Coalition’s proposed state law amendments seem reasonable and more may be needed.

“We will not know until we can have an open dialog,” he said. “I believe open congressional style hearings will help provide many of the answers.”