Anyone who know’s me (or has been following NathansNews since this post in 2010 ) knows I have little patience. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I declined to run for the SC Senate last month. With that in mind, like you, this past year has been a struggle to keep the focus on what’s best for the ratepayer in the aftermath of the VC Summer collapse last summer. This week, the House and Senate were able to agree and pass a law that not only has several fixes to what got us here; but also cuts our rates temporarily (and hopefully, permanently). That permanent decision is ultimately left to the Public Service Commission and, we suspect, the courts in the weeks and months ahead. In case you missed it this week…
…The new law, expected to spark a lawsuit from SCE&G, nearly would wipe out the monthly charges that the utility is continuing to charge its customers for the unfinished V.C. Summer reactors. The law also sends a message to the S.C. Public Service Commission, which sets utility rates, that it should side with electric customers when it decides, in December, who should pay off the billions of dollars left in construction debt — SCE&G’s customers, shareholders or both.
But lawmakers did not pass the new law easily.
It took nearly a year of State House hearings and legislative debates, plus a steady drip of news coverage unraveling the project’s failure and what lawmakers say was a cover-up of the Fairfield County project’s woes by SCE&G and its junior partner, the state-owned Santee Cooper utility.
Along the way, there were other key moments.
The new law was passed only after Gov. Henry McMaster pressured Santee Cooper, the project’s minority partner, to release a long-secret February 2016 study that — even after being scrubbed of some of its harshest criticisms — revealed major flaws in the project that were hidden from legislators, state regulators and the public.
Finally, lawmakers moved to slash SCE&G’s rates only after being assured by experts and studies that doing so would not force the utility into bankruptcy, as it had claimed.
“We worked through a process like none other I’ve been involved with in my time in the House,” House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, said Friday. “I can’t remember a tougher issue.”…