- The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff has asked the state's Public Service Commission to halt SCE&G from continuing to collect fees for the failed development of two new nuclear units at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant.
- The utility, a subsidiary of SCANA Corp., is collecting about $37 million every month to pay for the now-shuttered project, according to Charlotte Business Journal.
- The South Carolina Attorney General has called laws allowing the fees to be collected “constitutionally suspect," meaning SCE&G might be forced to refund some funds to customers. Utility officials dismissed that idea.
The 2007 law which allowed investor-owned to recoup costs associated with the V.C. Summer development could be retroactively altered, according to the opinion released this week by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.
"It is our opinion that, as applied, portions of the Base Load Review Act are constitutionally suspect. The Act fails to strike the constitutionally required balance between investors and ratepayers. It also denies ratepayers procedural due process," the opinion states.
SCE&G and state-owned utility Santee Cooper have spent $9 billion to develop the plant so far, but costs had spiralled out of control and could have reached an estimated $25 billion if the project was completed.
In July, the board of Santee Cooper voted unanimously to halt construction; SCANA subsequently filed plans with regulators to cease construction as well.
A SCANA spokesperson told Charlotte Business Journal that it disagreed with the attorney general's opinion of the law. “An Attorney General’s Office opinion is just that — an opinion,” Rhonda O'Banion said.
In other news, SCE&G said yesterday that, along with Santee Cooper, it had sold to Citibank, N.A. all future guaranty settlement payments from Toshiba Corp. due after an October 2017 payment of $150 million.
The development of new nuclear units has turned into a debacle for the state and was a factor in the bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the engineering subsidiary of Toshiba, which was tasked with plant development.
Earlier this month, released emails and an internal audit revealed that SCANA and Santee Cooper were warned more than a year ago that development of the new reactors was likely not going to be successful.
An audit of the project, prepared by contractor Bechtel in February 2016, outlined numerous problems at the plant, including flawed engineering documents, low morale at the work site, frequent construction changes, high turnover and generally slow progress.
Santee Cooper an SCANA Corp. previously told state officials they did not have a copy of the report to share.
The Post & Courier reports lawmakers are fuming at revelations the companies may have purposefully held back information. Rep. Peter McCoy (R) said during a recent hearing that "it seems to me that a fog has descended on SCANA, SCE&G and the PSC ... These reports are damning at minimum. To keep them from people is a real problem. We need some real oversight over it."