South Carolina PSC Will Review V.C. Summer Payback Option

South Carolina Electric & Gas owner SCANA Corp. is now at odds with state regulators who denied the company a dismissal of a proposal that could mean lower electric bills for ratepayers who have shelled out close to $2 billion for the expansion of the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant.

V.C. Summer expansionThe construction project involving two Westinghouse Electric Company designed AP1000 reactors was abandoned over the summer a few months after Westinghouse declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Despite a law that allowed SCG&E to bill customers for the construction project in advance of its completion, several state politician, including Gov. Henry McMaster, have decried the decision to abandon the project which was 60 percent owned by SCG&E and 40 percent by state utility South Carolina Public Service Authority, commonly known as Santee Cooper.

Just prior to the holidays, however, the Public Service Commission elected to maintain the proposal that could lower bills for ratepayers, pairing it with proposal that would require SCE&G to repay ratepayers about $1.8 billion.

The typical bill for SCG&E ratepayers includes about $27 per month added in for the twin-reactor, Fairfield County construction project, AP reported. SCG&E and Santee Cooper announced they would back away from the project on July 31, blaming the Westinghouse bankruptcy, which was declared on March 31.

SCANA has, since July, offered several conciliatory gestures to the state and public, at one point saying it would donate the land on which the project sits to Santee Cooper. That move would also shift responsibility of maintenance and security of the site to the state.

Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission has asked a state consumer protection agency, the Office of Regulatory Staff, to research the validity of whether or not repaying SCE&G customers would bankrupt SCANA and put utility services for 700,000 customers at risk, as SCANA has claimed.

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