Let the Public Service Commission Hear Your Voice

September 18, 2018

If you are a customer of SCE&G, it is finally your turn to tell the SC Public Service Commission (PSC) how you feel about the utility raising your electric rates by 18% and collecting over $2 BILLION since 2009 to just pay for the financing costs of a nuclear plant that will never produce one watt of electricity.

The first of 3 public hearings will be held at 6PM, Monday, September 24th in Columbia, PSC’s Hearing Room (Synergy Business Park, Saluda Building, 101 Executive Center Drive).

SCE&G spent $4.7 BILLION on construction since 2009 to build the nuclear plants before abandoning the project in July 2017. Santee Cooper is responsible for another $4 BILLION in construction costs.

Now SCE&G wants the ratepayers to pay for its construction costs for this nuclear debacle. The PSC will hold an official hearing starting November 1st after which it will decide how much of the $4.7 BILLION ratepayers will be responsible for paying.

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce (SCSBCC) is encouraging small business owners to attend and speak. Presentations will be limited to 3 minutes so prepare your comments in advance.

Here are some facts for you:

  • In 2007 the Legislature, not the PSC, passed the law written by the utility lobbyists that enabled SCE&G to increase rates every year to pay the financing costs of the nuclear construction.
  • In February 2009 the PSC gave initial approval for the nuclear project with “construction to begin in 2012, fuel to be loaded into the first reactor in 2015, the first reactor to begin operation in 2016 and the second reactor to begin operation in 2019”. (The State)
  • By December 2011 SCE&G was officially reporting delays in construction due to the need for new designs and labor issues. By this time the PSC had already approved 3 rate hikes for the project.
  • In June 2013 SCE&G announces that the first nuclear reactor would be 2 to 3 years behind schedule.
  • October 2014 Westinghouse says it will need $1.2 BILLION more for the project (all construction costs split 55% for SCE&G and 45% for Santee Cooper).
  • October 2015 the completion of the project is pushed back another year to 2019 and 2020.
  • In February 2016 a report hidden from the public, the Bechtel Report, “details failures by prime contractor Toshiba/Westinghouse as well as the utilities’ insufficient oversight of the project.” (The State)
  • June 2016 SCE&G asks for another $852 million to finish the project.
  • In November 2016 the PSC approves $831 million in additional construction costs in a settlement with intervenors. The settlement also tells SCE&G not to ask for any more construction cost increases. The PSC approves the 9th rate hike for the project bringing the total rate increases to 18%.\
  • With the blank check for construction costs eliminated, Westinghouse declares bankruptcy in March 2017.
  • Three months later, SCE&G and Santee Cooper abandon the project.
  • In August 2018 the Legislature orders the PSC to temporarily roll back SCE&G electric rates by 15% until the PSC makes a final ruling on who pays for the construction costs.
  • In August 2018 the PSC rules that Dominion Energy can take part in the November hearing on abandoned construction costs, a decision opposed by the SC Small Business Chamber because we believe that Dominion’s participation will prejudice the PSC against a favorable ruling for ratepayers.

The position of the SC Small Business Chamber is that SCE&G ratepayers should not be responsible for SCE&G’s nuclear construction costs, rates should be rolled back by 18 percent and the $2 billion the customers have already paid should be clawed back.

The PSC will hold 2 more public hearings, October 8th in Aiken and October 15th in North Charleston.

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