The Public Service Commission (PSC) continued its hearing today on SCE&G’s abandoned nuclear plant construction costs and who should foot the bill…SCE&G shareholders or SCE&G customers.
Mr. Gary Jones, a witness for the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS), testified today. He is a consulting engineer with deep experience in electric power generation including nuclear. Mr. Jones has worked with ORS since 2011 assisting in the monitoring and tracking of the construction schedule and budget for SCE&G’s now failed nuclear plants in Fairfield County.
Mr. Jones reviewed his detailed testimony explaining evidence obtained from SCE&G through discovery that he says shows that the utility hid important information on the construction project that, had they been known by ORS and the PSC, could have resulted pulling the plug on construction years ago saving billions of dollars.
In my cross examine of Mr. Jones, I asked him for succinct answers based on his factual knowledge.
In yesterday’s opening comments, Mr. Balser—SCE&G’s attorney, said that ORS “knew everything about this nuclear project”. I reminded Mr. Jones about this comment and said that if this assertion is correct, it follows that to the degree that the PSC did not receive all the vital information it needed over the years, ORS was complicit in this deception.
I asked Mr. Jones, “did you know everything that SCE&G knew about this nuclear project before it was abandoned (the nuclear construction)?”
His response. “Absolutely not!”
I then asked Mr. Jones if to his knowledge, “ORS knew everything about this project prior to abandonment?
“No” was his response.
Later Mr. Jones was cross examined by another SCE&G attorney who immediately tried to discredit the ORS expert.
Then the line of questioning from the SCE&G council turned to impeaching Mr. Jones’ testimony about the utility withholding critical information.
The attorney didn’t deny that there was a crucial report not turned over to ORS. The cross-examination strategy went like this.
In 2015 SCE&G told Mr. Jones about the Bechtel Report saying that it found nothing important and that there was not a written report. Mr. Jones believed the SCE&G authorities who told him this because after 4 years of working with them he trusted that they were telling him the truth. Consequently, he thought the report found nothing new. So, he did not pursue the matter further and didn’t advise the PSC about the report.
SCE&G’s position about the report and Mr. Jones is: We lied to you. You believed our lie. You should have not believed our lie and continued to ask us to turn over the report, so we could lie to you some more.
Mr. Jones will continue to be questioned by the SCE&G lawyer Monday morning.