Lexington County Chronicle
September 1, 2016
By Jerry Bellune
State utility law critics won’t wait for lawmakers to return to the Statehouse.
They are already preparing to champion changes in state law that they say:
• Gave S.C. Electric & Gas and other utilities a license to gouge their customers.
• Requires no accountability for mismanagement, 3-year delays and millions of dollars in cost overruns at two new nuclear plants.
• Allowed Public Service Commissioners to approve any rate hikes SCE&G wanted to cover mismanagement and skyrocketing costs.
AARP (American Association of Retired People) officials say they fear other legislatures in other states will bend to utility lobbyists and pass similar laws.
Lexington County House members Todd Atwater and Mac Toole have promised to seek hearings into proposed amendments to the law.
SCE&G defends its rates by saying what they do is legal under a law their lobbyists wrote and convinced lawmakers to approve.
AARP held a strategic training session for volunteers at Brookland Baptist Conference Center last week. They discussed:
• Whether the PSC is too beholden to SCE&G to render a fair decision on the 9th of 10 planned annual rate increases this fall.
• If state lawmakers will actually stand up to SCE&G lobbyists and hold hearings on proposed amendments to the Base Load Review Act that allowed SCE&G to do what its done to customers.
Critics say seniors are hurt as they will not live to see the cost savings they have been paying for.
Others hurt are low income families who are already having problems paying their power bills.
“SCE&G has no accountability for their costs,” said volunteer Tom Kosmata of Lexington, a former executive with Cooper Power Tools.
“I would have lost my job,” he said, “if I had cost overruns like this.”