Legislators hold public hearing on electricity rate increases

Making utilities accountable to the people they serve

Press Release
Date:   November 27, 2016
Frank Knapp Jr., South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, 803-252-5733 (o), (803) 600-6874 (c), fknapp@scsbc.org
Lynn Teague, League of Women Voters, (803) 556-9802, teague_l@bellsouth.net
Ben Wislinski, Sierra Club, (202) 870-3188, wislinski@gmail.com

Columbia, SC—A House Select Committee will hold an all-day public hearing to accept public comment on energy financing by private utilities. Most South Carolinians should take a very personal interest in this meeting because the law in question significantly affects the size of the check that must be written every month to pay utility bills.

The public hearing will be held Tuesday, November 29th, starting at 10:30AM in room 403 of the Blatt Building on the State House campus.

In 2006 the Base Load Review Act (BLRA) was passed to enable utility companies to build major energy generation facilities while saving financing costs. However, experience since that time has shown that the BLRA must be amended to provide stronger protections for ratepayers when there are cost overruns. In the only project governed by the BLRA since its passage, SCE&G construction costs of two nuclear plants in Fairfield County are about 20%, $2.6 billion, over the original approved budget. The BLRA as now written makes the ratepayers immediately responsible for all the additional financing costs of the overruns, even if some of the overruns arise from poor project management.

The Stop the Blank Check Coalition believes that this should change for future projects. Several amendments are being suggested that would put more burden on a utility to show that construction management decisions are prudent, construction contracts are better vetted, profit to the utility is properly regulated, and most importantly, the financing of construction cost overruns is the responsibility of the utility until the project is completed.

Frank Knapp, President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, has said, “Unfortunately the law has turned into a blank check, allowing utilities to be way over budget and behind schedule without any negative consequences to the company. In fact, the utility is actually almost immediately rewarded with more profits because of cost overruns.”

JoAnne Day, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, has said that “The League of Women Voters of South Carolina appreciates the interest that members of the House are showing in the issues around utility rates and the Base Load Review Act. We look forward to working with them to insure that the legal framework is sufficient to insure that the interests of utilities and ratepayers are balanced fairly and responsibly.”

“The SC Sierra Club looks forward to this public hearing so legislators can hear testimony from concerned ratepayers, and we look forward to forthcoming bipartisan legislation seeking to change the law to protect ratepayers from forced subsidies for utilities’ capital costs,” said Chris Hall, Chair of the SC Sierra Club.

The STOP THE BLANK CHECK Coalition suggested amendments to the law will better protect ratepayers in future large energy generation projects. We strongly encourage the public to attend this meeting.


Select Committee on Energy Generation Financing
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
10:30AM – Until
403 Blatt Building
Columbia, SC


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