Making utilities accountable to the people they serve

Press Release

From:    Coalition to STOP THE BLANK CHECK Date:   July 26, 2016

Contact: Mandy Bidinger, 803-252-5733,
Frank Knapp Jr., South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce
803-252-5733 (o), (803) 600-6874 (c)
Lynn Teague, League of Women Voters, (803) 556-9802,
Ben Wislinski, Sierra Club, (202) 870-3188,


South Carolina coalition complaints resonate nationally

Columbia, SC—It has been one week since the announcement at the South Carolina State House that a coalition called STOP THE BLANK CHECK had been formed to demand that the consumers not bear the costs of construction mismanagement of two nuclear plants.  While the primary target of the complaints is the state’s largest power company South Carolina Electric & Gas, the massive out-of-state media attention the story received clearly shows that the coalition has hit a national nerve.

Over 60 non-South Carolina newspapers from California to Florida, Montana to Mississippi and New York to Texas ran the Associated Press story by Jeffrey Collins.

“The STOP THE BLANK CHECK coalition agenda represents the national public sentiment that big businesses and their shareholders are profiting by transferring responsibility for their costly, risky behavior onto the consuming public,” says Frank Knapp, president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

The coalition opposes state-approval of an additional $846 million for the construction of the nuclear plants that it insists would put the project about 43% over budget. SCE&G is also asking the Public Service Commission to approve a 3% rate hike to cover the financing costs of the construction already approved which would mean that SCE&G customers will have had their electric rates increased by about 20% since 2009.

“We are especially concerned about the state law that underlies the rate increases and has allowed SCE&G to put all the risk and costs onto the

The Base Load Review Act was passed by the state’s legislature in 2007.  The coalition says that the Act was written by the utility company to guarantee that all costs it incurred, regardless of how imprudent the management decisions had been, would be 100% passed onto the electric customers with a hefty profit built in.

But it is not only of SCE&G customers being gouged according to the coalition.  The state’s electric cooperatives customers are also paying the price of mismanagement because Santee Cooper, the state’s power company that provides electricity to co-ops, owns 45% of the nuclear plants and their capital costs.  The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina has taken the unusual step of intervening in the Public Service Commission proceedings because of their concerns over cost overruns and the project being three years behind schedule.

“As we have noted, we know of no other business model where it is permissible to charge current customers for a plant which may never serve them, and the public is rightfully upset. The SC Public Service Commission should deny the latest schedule delay and cost overrun because the mismanagement of building these reactors has clearly been imprudent — it is hurting us all,” says SC Sierra Club Chairman Chris Hall.



South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce | 1717 Gervais St., Columbia, SC 29201 | (803) 252-5733 |

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