House members split on Senate's plan to reduce SCE&G bills

House members split on Senate's plan to reduce SCE&G bills

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Ratepayers like Doris Fletcher want relief from massive, hard-to-pay SCE&G bills.

"I had to borrow the money to pay my light bill," she said.

Right now, both the House and the Senate are trying to give Fletcher and other ratepayers temporary relief, but a fight could now be set on how bills should be reduced.

"We have an opportunity right now to provide that rate relief to people that are burdened with these high electricity costs," said Rep. Russell Ott (D-St. Mattews).

State Representatives like Ott now have a decision to make after a Senate bill passed Wednesday night. Of the 18% SCE&G customers pay each month on their bills for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project, the Senate bill would slash that by 13% to just 5%.

However, a previously passed plan in the House would cut the entire 18% to 0%, but there's a worry the more aggressive House plan might by overturned or legally challenged.

"I think everyone wants zero. Everyone would love to get the rates all the way down to zero. But just because you want something doesn't mean you can have it," Ott said. "I certainly want as much rate relief as I can get for the people I represent and the customers of SCE&G, and I don't know if it would be prudent for us to risk what we have currently on the table of a 13% rate reduction in monthly utility bills, simply because we want to take a political position and try to look strong or tougher than what is actually doable."

Representative Micah Caskey, meanwhile, thinks reducing bills by the full 18% is doable.

"They want to continue to charge innocent people for a project they shouldn't be charged for, so any penny going back into SCANA's pocket is one penny too many," he said.

So will it be the House plan or the Senate plan? And what will Governor Henry McMaster do?

Again, Thursday, a spokesperson said he'll veto any plan that won't cut the full nuclear charge.

Those questions will have to be flushed out in the coming days – before session ends – in order for ratepayers to get any relief at all.

There's no word yet on when the House will consider whether or not to concur with the Senate's bill.

Rep. Kirkman Finlay (R-Columbia), meanwhile, said he'd likely be satisfied with either solution.

"One is a win," he said. "One is a curb stomping."

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