Lexington County Chronicle
September 08, 2016

By:  Jerry Bellune

It won’t be a lot.

But it’s a start, say critics of Cayce power company S.C. Electric & Gas.

The subsidiary of the $9 billion SCANA Corp. announced it agreed to:sceg-rate-hike-pict

• Reduce its Return on Equity, money the utility keeps in construction cost overruns, by .25%, from 10.5% to 10.25%.

That would save customers about $26 million on construction financing.

• A “fixed price” on future construction financing costs that would limit customers’ liability to pay for.

If the cost of its two new nuclear plants goes over a $505.5 million “fixed price,” SCE&G and its contractor Westinghouse will have to cover those added costs.

The settlement is with some critics including members of the Stop the Blank Check Coalition and the state Office of Regulatory Staff which represents public interests in regulation.

The Sierra Club, the S.C. Coastal Conservation League and CMC Steel are not expected to enter into the settlement agreement.

Frank Knapp of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce said the agreement will not prevent the coalition to continue to press for reforms in state law that allowed SCE&G to charge its customers for delays and cost overruns.

“It is critical,” Knapp said, “that the General Assembly prevent a blank check from being given to any utility building a power plant.”

Boomhower said the agreement will cut increased costs $20 million and lower SCE&G’s Return on Equity starting in 2017 to save customers about $26 million.

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