Ratepayers could get refunded, as bills clear first step to becoming law

Ratepayers could get refunded, as bills clear first step to becoming law

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Refunds could come to some of the electric customers who funded the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear reactors over the years.

In a House subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, six bills cleared the first step toward law. The bills tackle refunds, increased electric rates, and oversight of utilities in South Carolina. They were unanimously voted through the first House subcommittee.

Almost all who testified spoke in support of the measures.

"We endorse the committee's work," Bob Guild, who represents the Sierra Club, said.

"I rise to speak in favor of this legislation," Coretta Bedsole, who represents AARP, said.

"We have 617,000 members in South Carolina. Many of them are living on a fixed income, and they have seen their electric bills rise greatly in the last 8 years," Bedsole said.

Here's some of what's inside this bundle of bills:

  • H. 4375 on rate-making: requires the utility to pay its debt, interest, and shutdown of V.C. Summer without the 18% increase on SCE&G customers' bills, and strips the 18 percent off the rates.
  • H. 4376 on Santee Cooper reform ends Board members' terms and creates some new qualifications for them, and requires any new rates go through the Public Service Commission - V.C. Summer costs, barred.
  • H. 4380 on Ratepayer refunds authorizes the Public Service Commission to require SCANA to issue refunds.

There was one who objected to parts on H. 4376, Santee Cooper's Interim CEO Jim Brogdon. He says changing the Board could result in degraded credit ratings and ultimately electric rate spikes on customers.

"Well, I have a major issue with that and I do for a couple of reasons," Rep. Peter McCoy (R- Charleston) said, "Number one, Santee Cooper came in front of our ratepayer committee and said if the project goes forward, the nuclear project goes forward, the rates are going to go up then. So, they're saying the rates are going to go up no matter what."

Next, the bills will be debated by the full House Judiciary Committee.

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