How Much Power Did SCANA Buy?

How Much Power Did SCANA Buy?

September 21, 2017
Lexington County Chronicle
Jerry Bellune

SCANA invested $1.25 million in lawmakers over the last 17 years.

“They don’t do this for good government,” said S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce CEO Frank Knapp. Jr.. “It’s for access and influence.”

The Lexington County-based utility donated thousands of dollars to lawmakers who backed the Base Load Review Act, according to published information.

The Stop the Blank Check Coalition says lawmakers gave SCANA a blank check to raise customers’ rates.

SCANA, its S.C. Electric & Gas subsidiary and state-owned Santee Cooper have created public outrage by abandoning their $10 billion nuclear reactor project after profiting from nine customer rate increases. SCANA wants to charge customers another $2.2 billion.

Another $80,000 went to lawmakers who approve Public Service Commissioners who approve rates.

More than $90,000 went to 31 of 32 lawmakers investigating why the project failed after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy.

S.C. Rep. Bill Sandifer, R-Oconee, served on the committee approving the BLRA, championed it in the House and heads a committee looking into what went wrong with the reactors.

Sandifer, who serves on the Public Utilities Review Committee which picks the Public Service Commissioners, received $9,500. He and fellow PURC members received nearly $78,000.

SCANA spokesman Eric Boomhower, who will not respond to questions from the Chronicle, told The State newspaper that the donations were not “to any official to support the passage or defeat of any specific legislation, or to advocate on behalf of our company.”

If so, critics ask, what did SCANA expect in return?

SCANA donations rose almost 300% to $110,000 the year before lawmakers passed the BLRA, The State’s analysis of National Institute on Money in State Politics data showed.

Sandifer told a reporter he had no donation records.

“You have an unfair advantage,” he said, “because you’re looking at a document and I can’t determine whether you’re telling the truth or not.”