Co-ops customers on the hook for billions more in nuclear costs

Co-ops customers on the hook for billions more in nuclear costs

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - New details emerge as nuclear energy talks continue inside the State House. We are learning how customers of South Carolina electric co-ops are dealing with reactor debt.

On Thursday, CEOs of electric cooperatives testified before a House panel. The President and CEO Mike Couick of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, President and CEO Rob Hochstetler of Central Electric Power Cooperatives, and General Counsel to Central Electric Power Cooperatives John Tiencken testified and were questioned for four hours.

The three told lawmakers their customers are on the hook for $2.8 billion more towards the failed nuclear reactors, and they've already paid $400 million.

They asked that lawmakers intervene, that they get $630 million to lower customers' rates. They want that money from the settlement Toshiba paid to leave the nuclear project.

One House member told WIS-TV he wants relief for people like his constituents, who are paying more for electricity, just like the committee has tried to arrange for SCE&G customers.

"They need relief as well. Here's the deal. When you look at this fiasco, SCE&G customers were paying about 18 to 19% of their bill, Santee Cooper's customers and the co-ops are looking at about 4% of the bill. Whatever it is, we're going to get that taken care of, and we're going to file legislation and look into that," Rep. Nathan Ballentine (R- Richland) said.

The cooperatives leaders called the state-owned utility Santee Cooper "unacceptable" in the way it's run in the nuclear fiasco; they asked that lawmakers consider selling it. There are 20 cooperatives in South Carolina receiving. The cooperatives get about 75% of energy from Santee Cooper.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, we may have to wait a little longer to learn the fate of an SCE&G merger deal.

The Senate is set to debate a bill on Tuesday that would delay a decision on Dominion Energy's proposed merge with SCE&G for about one year.

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