Lexington County Chronicle
July 19, 2018
Long court battle may continue nuclear costs
By Jerry Bellune
An SC Electric & Gas lawsuit may delay a 15% cut in ratepayers’ nuclear charges.
State lawmakers and regulators approved the reduction effective August 7.
A long court fight over the $37 million a month surcharge 700,000 SCE&G ratepayers are being charged could delay the 15% cut.
“SCE&G ratepayers should not expect to see rate relief possibly until January,” said Frank Knapp, CEO of the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce.
“SCE&G will use legal challenges as long as they can to avoid returning money and reducing rates. Delay has always been a part of their legislative and legal strategy.”
SCE&G’s Eric Boomhower said ratepayers could expect to see relief on and after the August 7 deadline.
“The Public Service Commission ordered SCE&G to temporarily remove from retail electric rates all increases associated with the Base Load Review Act after 2010,” he said. “SCE&G has filed a lawsuit in federal court contesting the constitutionality of this legislation.
“Contingent upon a ruling, customers could see a temporary reduction of approximately 15% to their electric rate, as well as a one-time bill credit for BLRA-related electric charges collected during April, May, June, and July 2018,” he said.
“The temporary rate reduction and the one-time bill credit would appear as a line item on customer bills issued on and after Aug. 7, 2018, and the rate reduction would remain in effect through the final billing cycle of December 2018.”
Tom Clements of Friends of the Earth was more optimistic after talking with lawyers involved in the case.
“I believe that the ‘motion to dismiss’ SCE&G’s case will be approved by the judge as SCE&G’s case is weak.”
“I see no legal reason that the federal judge should wade into a state matter.
“I predict she will allow the matter to play out at the PSC and in South Carolina
courts,” Clements said.
Under pressure from angry constituents, lawmakers reached a compromise to cut the 18% nuclear surcharge to 3%.
They directed the Public Service Commission to require SCE&G to cut rates on its failed $9 billion project.
Ratepayers have been charged an average $325 a year yet the plant has not produced a single kilowatt of electricity or delivered savings SCE&G promised.