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SCE&G proposes plan to reduce rates in wake of V.C. Summer debacle

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S.C. Electric and Gas’ proposed solution to rate increases stemming from the V.C. Summer State nuclear construction project would provide approximately $4.8 billion to SCE&G customers, including a rollback of residential, commercial and industrial electric rates to where they would have been in March 2015.

That would reduce annual rates by approximately $90 million, or 3.5%, SCE&G parent company SCANA said.  

Other components of the solution proposed today include:

  • SCANA shareholders will absorb the net nuclear construction costs through lower earnings over the next 50 years.
  • The addition of a 540-megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant to SCE&G’s system, replacing more than 40% of the projected power that was to be provided to the company from the V.C. Summer project. The acquisition cost will be borne by SCANA shareholders.
  • The addition of approximately 100 megawatts of large-scale solar energy to SCE&G’s system.

“We’ve heard our customers’ frustrations about paying for a power plant and having nothing to show for it. This proposal gives customers additional power generation while also lowering rates for customers,” said Keller Kissam, SCE&G’s president of retail operations who will replace Stephen Byrne as SCANA COO when Byrne’s resignation becomes effective on Jan 1.

The proposal must be accepted by the state regulators. Kissam said there is no timetable for approval of the plan.

“We hope interested parties will endorse the proposal so that we can obtain approval from the Public Service Commission and get this relief to customers,” said Jimmy Addison, SCANA’s current CFO who will become CEO when Kevin Marsh’s resignation becomes effective on Jan. 1. “Current projections indicate that if this proposal is adopted, we would not need an additional generation source for several years.”

The natural gas-fired power plant, located in Gaston, is being bought for $180 million. Along with producing electricity, it produces process steam that supports the operation of a neighboring manufacturing facility. It began operation in 2004 and employs 19 people.

Kissam said the factory has a life of approximately 50 years.

The twin 1,117-megawatt nuclear reactors being built near Jenkinsville were abandoned in April after contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy protection. SCE&G and Santee Cooper, co-owners of the project, sank nearly $9 billion into the project, with SCANA requesting and receiving nine rate increases during the 10-year construction process.

On Tuesday, the S.C. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will debate a six-bill Utility Ratepayer Protection Package that would restructure the Public Service Commission, shift the responsibility of paying for the reactions to SCANA and SCE&G and authorize customer refunds. The House Judiciary Constitutional Laws subcommittee vetted and approved the package earlier this week.

The Judiciary Committee debate is the final step in the committee process before House takes up the package when the legislative session convenes in January.


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