Lexington County Chronicle
November 24, 2016
By Jerry Bellune
S.C. Electric & Gas critics’ want four major changes in a controversial state law. At a public hearing next Tuesday, the Stop the Blank Check Coalition will ask lawmakers to amend the Base Load Review Act to:
• Allow SCE&G to recover construction financing costs only on the original projected costs the state approved. Additional construction costs may be recovered with state approval after the plant is producing lower cost energy for consumers.
• The Office of Regulatory Staff will be advisors only to all contract negotiations and decisions for construction projects submitted for Public Service Commission approval.
• Allow the PSC to decide SCE&G’s Return on Equity in all rate increase requests. This is consumers’ money that does not go directly to pay financing costs but the company keeps for itself.
• SCE&G must prove to the PSC the prudence of transaction costs or decisions based on evidence.
Critics’ voice Under law now, critics must prove a construction decision is imprudent. “Your SCE&G rates are going up once again to pay for the construction financing costs for the company’s new nuclear plants,” said Frank Knapp, S.C. Small Business Chamber president. “Since 2009, SCE&G has been approved for nine rate increases totaling 19.9% for residential consumers and the business community.
“Since the nuclear plants won’t go online until 2019 and 2020 at the earliest,” he said, “we can expect two or more rate hikes just for the construction financing costs, not construction.”
Select group The House of Representatives has appointed a Select Committee on Energy Generation Financing to conduct hearings and consider changes in a law that critics say was created by SCE&G and sold to lawmakers. The all-day public hearing Nov. 29, will continue the next day if needed. “This is your chance to let our legislators know how you feel about having your electricity rates increased by almost 20% so far for SCE&G’s nuclear plants project,” Knapp said.