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Coalition calls for reform to state’s utility regulation system

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The Stop the Blank Check Coalition called today for extensive reforms to the state’s utility regulatory system. It also rejected SCE&G’s position that ratepayers be responsible for the incurred construction costs of the abandoned nuclear units at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

The group, originally founded in 2016 to advocate for the reform of the Base Load Review Act, called today for repeal of the BLRA, pointing out that Duke Energy has no plans to build a nuclear plant in South Carolina and other nuclear construction has been abandoned.

The coalition also recommended Santee Cooper be made more accountable by giving the governor ability to remove directors and by placing its regulation under the same bodies, laws and rules as privately owned utilities. Santee Cooper currently has public status, which the coalition believes shields it from needed regulatory oversight.

“We support the reform of the regulatory process for all utilities to ensure protection of ratepayers and the general public interest,” the coalition said in a press release.

Here are some of the coalition’s other proposals:

  • The governor should appoint members of the Public Service Commission. Public election of PSC members would be supported only if public financing were provided, with a prohibition on private funding from any source. 
  •  The Office of Regulatory Staff should not be responsible for representing the financial integrity of utilities. Its mission should be to represent the interests of ratepayers and the general public interest.
  • The ORS executive director should make decisions grounded in an objective and unbiased assessment of complex data.
  • Regulated utilities should be restricted from making campaign contributions to candidates, parties, PACs or caucuses.

The coalition also supports efforts to hold SCE&G and SCANA shareholders responsible for the V.C. Summer plant construction costs. It suggests development of a comprehensive energy plan for the state that includes a diversity of energy sources.

The Stop the Blank Check Coalition is led by Frank Knapp Jr., S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce. In addition to the chamber, coalition members include AARP South Carolina, Carolina Peace Resource Center, Kingdom Living Temple, National Association of Social Workers- SC Chapter, New Alpha Community Development Corporation, League of Women Voters of South Carolina, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, Sustainable Midlands and The Whitney M. Slater Foundation.

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