Nuclear plant fallout, lawmakers file new bills

V.C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station
This Sept. 18, 2017 photo shows the partially built V.C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station near Jenkinsville, S.C. On Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, the boards of state-owned Santee Cooper and the private South Carolina Electric & Gas approved the sale of their share of a $2.2 billion, five-year settlement over the failed nuclear project so that they can recover nearly 92 percent of the cash immediately. (AP Photo)

When the General Assembly reconvenes in January lawmakers will consider at least six bills filed in response to the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project in Jenkinsville.

House Speaker Jay Lucas filed the legislation on Thursday, assigning each of the bills to the House Judiciary Committee for debate.

“The legislation introduced today lowers current rates and prevents consumers from paying a single penny more for the costly failed project,” Lucas said.  “Additionally, the bills gut existing law and put proposals in place that advocate for the ratepayer rather than utilities and its investors.”

One of the proposals (H.4375)  would amend the Base Load Review Act, a law that helped pave the way for the abandoned nuclear expansion effort.  The proposal would eliminate SCE&G’s rate increases tied to the project.  According to the Office of Regulatory Staff, the company continues to collect $37 million per month from its customers for the nuclear plants.   House Bill 4380 authorizes the Public Service Commission to require SCE&G’s parent company SCANA to give customers a refund.

Another bill (H.4376) would lead to reforms at state-owned utility Santee Cooper. The measure would end current board members’ terms, force the utility to sent proposed rate increases to the Public Service Commission for review, and prevent abandonment costs from being added to new rates.

Three other bills, H.4377, H.4378 and H.4379, would strengthen oversight of the utilities.

“In recent months, it has become overwhelmingly evident that increased oversight and necessary reforms must be made to several state agencies in order to prevent a fiasco of this magnitude from occurring again.” Lucas said.  “I am confident that the solutions offered in this legislation will require utility companies to meet strict criteria and present significant evidence before a single rate increase is approved in the future.”

 

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