Regulators let SCE&G off for deceit, cover-ups, they say

Lexington County Chronicle
January 10, 2019

By Jerry Bellune

A state watchdog and other critics want regulators to reverse a nuclear ruling.

The SC Office of Regulatory Staff, environmentalist groups Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club and the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce contend the Public Service Commission erred in its findings.

They say the PSC should have found that SC Electric & Gas executives:

  • Acted imprudently in deceiving the PSC and hiding evidence that showed they mismanaged a failed $9 billion nuclear project.
    • Violated the Base Load Review Act (BLRA) and should not have been allowed any cost recovery of billions of dollars from their 727,000 ratepayers.

The PSC is being accused of failing to cite any legal justification to rule to let SCE&G recover costs from ratepayers after it abandoned the project.

“The absence of an imprudence finding not only is an erroneous decision under the law, it also opens the door to a future challenge of the order by Dominion Energy or another party, including SCE&G,” SC Small Business Chamber CEO Frank Knapp Jr., said.

“SCE&G ratepayers are put in jeopardy of being responsible for all capital costs of this abandoned project if this order is not amended.”

Knapp and the others said the PSC erred in allowing a combined hearing on SCE&G’s mismanagement and Dominion Energy’s proposed takeover of the company and its parent, Lexington County-based SCANA.

The takeover issue could have “unduly influenced” the PSC’s ruling on SCE&G nuclear mismanagement.

The commissioners’ desire to approve the sale of SCE&G drove all other decisions, Knapp said.
ORS watchdog head Nannette Edwards said the PSC should have called out SCE&G for withholding important information to win rate-hike cases and keep the foundering project alive.

“It is beyond dispute that SCE&G failed to disclose any iteration of the Bechtel Report to ORS or the Commission,” the agency said.

The PSC must “make a clear finding” that SCE&G could have avoided or minimized construction costs.

She said the PSC needs to “restore public trust.”

The PSC has until next week to respond.

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