Lexington County Chronicle
July 12, 2018
By Frank Knapp Jr.
The SC Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously voted to comply with the directive of the SC Legislature last week. The PSC approved a 15% electric rate decrease for SCE&G customers retroactive to April 1.
Before you get too excited, a few days earlier SCE&G filed suit in a federal District Court to block the rate rollback saying that the legislation passed is unconstitutional.
In court is exactly where we expected to be all along and why I’ve been advocating that we should have been there sooner.
Added to the lawsuits legalese is this SCE&G analysis: “Bowing to extreme political pressure, the South Carolina General Assembly now wishes that it had not enacted the BLRA (Base Load Review Act) and, through two new laws (Act 287 and Resolution 285), seeks to punish SCE&G by retroactively eliminating all rate increases since 2010 authorized under the BLRA.”
For 95 years SCE&G has owned the SC General Assembly lock, stock, and barrel by lobbying, campaign contributions, public donations and all its economic clout. It was a political machine that no legislator dared defy.
SCE&G was the epitome of “extreme political pressure”. Now the utility wants to complain to the federal court that it is being harmed by “extreme political pressure”?
SCE&G certainly has the right to challenge the constitutionality of a law passed by the General Assembly to temporarily rollback rates approved over the years by the PSC for the mismanaged and now abandoned nuclear plant’s construction.
And the public has the right to sue to challenge the constitutionality of the 2007 Base Load Review Act. It created the mess we’re in by allowing all those rate hikes.
But for SCE&G to whine to a federal court that it has been the victim of “extreme political pressure” is hypocritical. It shows just how far the utility has fallen from power.
Mr. Knapp is the President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.