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Call for South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee Cooper to Refund Ratepayers for Nuclear Project

Should SCE&G Refund Ratepayers for Nuclear Project? ft Free Times, By David Travis Bland, 23 June 17, 

The Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth are going for the throat of two nuclear power reactors under construction by South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and Santee Cooper. While they’re calling for complete abandonment of the project, the environmentally focused duo also wants the utilities to pay back ratepayers.
On June 22 Tom Clements of Friends of the Earth and Bob Guild of the Sierra Club took to a podium outside the state Public Service Commission to announce they’ll be demanding that the regulatory entity direct SCE&G to “immediately cease expending further capital costs” on the V.C. Summer nuclear reactor project north of Columbia. A formal complaint was filed with the commission after the event in which the organizations asked for a hearing to plead their case. In what Clements says is an unprecedented move, the hearing was granted and scheduled shortly after the filing.

“One of the things we’re going to be asking for is accountability on the part of SCE&G for essentially creating this mess they’ve created for ratepayers,” Guild said before the press event.

In the Public Service Commission’s lobby, a dozen citizens stood behind the environmental representatives with badges declaring “Clean Energy For All.”

“We will be asking for repatriation of the money” to ratepayers, Clements said in an earlier phone call. State law allows the commission to call for “rate reparations,” essentially rebates for electricity users, from SCE&G if the commission finds the utility wasted money in attempting to build the nuclear reactors.

The official complaint comes before a June 26 deadline for an assessment period in which SCE&G is looking into whether they should halt or continue the nuclear energy project.

Started in 2008, the Fairfield County nuclear reactors have been burdened by cost overruns and delays. At only 37 percent completion with already $8.9 billion sunk, according to a presentation given to utility insiders, the total cost of the reactors is projected to be between $15 and $22 billion by the estimates of Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club.

Then March 2017 rolled around with a bankruptcy announcement by Westinghouse, designer of the reactors and former lead contractor.

The project is “bleeding,” said Guild, and ratepayers foot a hearty chunk of the bill…….

If the project were abandoned and SCE&G could provide evidence that it was prudent to halt construction, state law also allows the utility to charge ratepayers to recover the company’s losses. To force ratepayers to bear the brunt of their losses, SCE&G needs the approval of the Public Service Commission.

“Will the Public Service Commission do as we believe they should and that is proportion responsibility where it belongs on SCE&G management and shareholders?” Guild asked. “That’s the open question.”

So far the regulatory body has given SCE&G every rate increase they’ve asked for. http://www.free-times.com/news/local-and-state-news/should-sce-g-refund-ratepayers-for-nuclear-project/article_72e59b4c-5815-11e7-a10b-c7206539c3b9.html

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June 24, 2017 - Posted by | business and costs, USA

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