News 2 I-Team: What utility customers should know about failed nuclear plant investigation

The Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee met in Columbia Tuesday.

COLUMBIA, SC (WCBD) — “Constitutionally suspect” is what one state prosecutor says about a South Carolina Law used by SCANA and SCE&G to raise customers rates over the now  failed nuclear project.

SC Attorney General Alan Wilson released a 50-page opinion detailing that subject. He released it just an hour into a Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee hearing in Columbia.

Those affected by the rate hikes spoke to the government panel about how they were affected and what kind of relief they need.

“’I can barely make ends meet,’” quoted AARP’s SC advocacy director Coretta Bedsole. She quoted AARP members who responded to a survey. “’Here’s the thing: our rates go up, but my income does not,’” she said.

“This is really upsetting. I don’t know how to talk about it because I’m going to cry,” said Dorris Fletcher, who spoke of what she’s been through with SCE&G. While many people spoke at a podium, Fletcher sat at a table to deliver her address. She was attached to oxygen.

“I went to many meetings so sick to myself,” she said.

Charleston-area attorney Jerry Wigger says right now the only legal action that a customer can take is a civil case. Je says be on the look-out for class action cases you can join.

“A lot of times it’s hard to sue a utility when it’s just a customer. There are immunities in place for those types of groups. But, when you have the Attorney General coming out saying there were problems behind the scenes that nobody knew about, that helps those folks,” said Wigger.

Also, The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced Tuesday it is looking into possible criminal activity surrounding the demise of the VC Summer nuclear plant.  The investigation is on behalf of SCANA and SCE&G. House Speaker Jay Lucas requested the investigation.

The News 2 I-Team reached out to SCANA to find out how the company might help the customers affected. A spokesperson says that they plan to use what they get out of a settlement with Toshiba to benefit the customers.

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