CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - There is an answer in sight for how SCE&G customers may be paid back for the billions invested in the failed VC Summer nuclear project.
Thursday was the first day of an SC Public Service Commission hearing for the utility company. The commission has been tasked with deciding how that money will be reimbursed to ratepayers. It will also decide if SCE&G’s parent company, SCANA, will be allowed to merge with Virginia-based Dominion Energy.
SCE&G’s abandonment of the VC Summer nuclear project has been called a failure, a debacle and a fraud.
“The Greeks have a term for this behavior, hubris, excessive pride leading to one’s downfall,” Robert Guild said on behalf of the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth. “Hubris is the theme for this tragic case.”
SCE&G representatives apologized.
“SCE&G appreciates the opportunity in this proceeding to tell its side of the story for the first time,” David Balser said on behalf of the utility company. “Let me begin by saying SCE&G is very sorry for the impact that its decision to abandon construction of units two and three is having upon our customers, the commission, and the state. But no one disputes that abandonment is the right decision.”
The utility company laid blame for the construction failure on others, including SCE&G’s nuclear partner, Santee Cooper.
“It is not SCE&Gs fault,” Balser said to the commission.
However, many in South Carolina, including the ratepayers who fronted billions of dollars to pay for a nuclear plant that was never finished, say SCE&G should be held responsible.
“For the ratepayers, the extra money they have been paying over the years came with a promise,” one presenter said. “SCE&G would be good stewards of their investment.”
This is a landmark case for the state.
William Cleveland of the Southern Environmental Law Center described it as the biggest thing that’s going to happen for South Carolina energy in a lifetime.
Many are now hoping the Public Service Commission can look beyond corporate money and listen to the people these decisions will affect most.
“I’m an outraged ratepayer who has been screwed over as all of us have been in South Carolina,” Elaine Cooper said.
She is a ratepayer who made a point to sit in on Thursday’s hearing.
Officials say they anticipate the hearing to run through the month of November.