The state House on Thursday announced the prefiling of a legislative package resulting from months of review of two abandoned nuclear reactors in Fairfield County.
A special 20-member House panel met this fall to discover what caused two utilities to abandon the over-budget project, which started in 2009 and was enabled by a 2007 law that made it easier for utilities to finance projects through rate hikes ahead of completion.
“Protecting the South Carolina ratepayer in the aftermath of the VC Summer nuclear facility fallout has been the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee’s sole focus throughout its extensive and thorough study,” said House Speaker Jay Lucas in a statement.
“The legislation introduced today lowers current rates and prevents consumer from paying a single penny more for the costly failed project. Additionally, the bills gut existing law and put proposals in place that advocate for the ratepayer rather than utilities and its investors,” added the Hartsville Republican.
South Carolina Electric and Gas and project partner, Santee Cooper financed the project through more than $2 billion in rate hikes.
Lucas assigned the bills to the House Judiciary Committee. He expects the committee to take up the package before the legislative session begins in January.
The six prefiled bills would—
- Require the utility, not the customers, to pay for debt, interest and shutdown costs tied to the project. One bill would also stop the additional 18 percent that SCE&G customers are paying for the project, instead letting the Public Service Commission set an interim rate.
- End the terms of current state-owned Santee Cooper’s board members, require approval of rate hikes through the PSC, and ban abandonment costs from being covered by increased rates.
- Reform the PSC.
- Replace the Public Utilities Review Committee with a 12-member board appointed by the legislature and governor. The committee is currently made of six legislators and three members of the public.
- Reform the public-defending Office of Regulatory Staff by adding a consumer advocate and strengthening the agency.
- Let the PSC require SCE&G’s parent company, SCANA to issue ratepayer refunds.