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SCE and G electric utility aims to discredit the testimony of two former employees

In fight over power bills, SCE&G seeks to disparage ex-employees, $1 million nuclear report, Greenville News, Avery G. Wilks, The State Nov. 19, 2018 COLUMBIA — When the S.C. Public Service Commission rules on SCE&G’s electric rates next month, the Cayce-based utility doesn’t want those regulators to put too much stock into scathing testimony by two of its former employees.

Nor does SCE&G want the commission to weigh heavily a nuclear contractor’s late 2015 assessment that concluded SCE&G’s $9 billion nuclear construction project was foundering and way behind schedule.

Fighting allegations of fraud and mismanagement in this month’s PSC hearing into the failed V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion project, SCE&G has sought to disparage its former employees and a high-powered construction company that it paid $1 million.

It is a key part of SCE&G’s defense as the state’s utility watchdog, environmentalists and consumer groups cite those witnesses to bolster their arguments that the utility’s power bills – which rose by about $27 a month to bankroll the failing project – should be slashed.

That strategy likely will be on display again Tuesday when former utility executive Carlette Walker, vice president of nuclear finance administration for SCE&G’s parent company SCANA, and retired SCE&G engineer Ken Browne testify before the commission for the first time in this case.

Impeach your own people’

Walker and Browne are star witnesses for the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, the state’s utility watchdog.

In sworn statements filed with the PSC, both have said SCE&G executives misled the commission in 2015 by testifying the project would cost $698 million more to complete – a number supplied by the project’s lead contractor, Westinghouse.

That number was unrealistically low and based on a productivity rate that never had been achieved at the Fairfield County construction site, Walker and Browne say. A team of SCE&G accountants and engineers worked for weeks to estimate the project actually would cost an additional $1.2 billion to finish — $500 million more than Westinghouse had said.

That half-billion-dollar difference is key to Regulatory Staff’s argument that SCE&G fraudulently won rate hikes and kept its failing nuclear project alive by providing the PSC with low-balled cost estimates. ……..

November 19, 2018 - Posted by | legal, USA

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