House bargains for deal to lower nuclear charge on SCE&G customers

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After nuclear fallout nearly one year ago at V.C. Summer, there's a compromise in the making on how much to lower SCE&G rates.

Lawmakers are looking to reduce SCE&G rates by less, but for longer than before planned.

The crammed conference room inside the State House offered standing room only, as representatives and senators began to compromise on lowering electric rates for SCE&G customers on Wednesday.

Some of those customers who could be impacted sat in the audience.

"All these rates need to be reduced because it's ridiculous. We pay one of the most incredibly high rates in the nation and we are not, or our society has a lot of people who can't afford to pay their electric bills," Pamela Greenlaw said.

In previous debates, there were two plans laid-out on the table: the House version to temporarily lower rates by 18% and leave no charge for failed nuclear reactors on customers, and the Senate version to temporarily lower rates by 13% and leave a 5% nuclear charge on customers.

But House members are ready to go with the Senate's reduction if it can be extended to last longer. Rep. Kirkman Finlay (R- Richland) is suggesting the effective date begin August 1, 2017, the day after the reactors were abandoned at V.C. Summer. His goal is to have a $300 million credit to ratepayers.

"The rate should fall the day the plant was declared no longer viable. Why should SCE&G get a 10.5% rate of return on a failure?" Finlay said.

The rate would last until a December 2018 date, when the Public Service Commission rules on a proposed SCANA merger with Dominion Energy.

However, when the Wednesday meeting adjourned, the bill including this bargain still wasn't passed; the six lawmakers will have to meet again. They are sure there will be legal challenges to whatever is passed, so they're working to ensure it can withstand a lawsuit by utilities.

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