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It’s Time to Make The Base Load Review Act History

Posted on 06/18/18

South Carolinians, take notice. The Base Load Review Act allowed SCE&G to charge us some of the highest electricity rates in the southeast for the construction of V.C. Summer- an abandoned, unfinished nuclear power plant that will never produce power. SCE&G was able to raise our rates 9 times in less than 10 years, including a full year and a half after knowing the doomed fate of the nuclear project. So far, SCE&G parent company SCANA’s shareholders received $529 million of the $2 billion paid by SCE&G customers for V.C. Summer.

South Carolina legislators have had since January to move no less than six bills that would reform the way in which utility companies conduct business here. AARP SC directly supports two of them: H. 4375 and H. 4379.

H. 4375: Retroactively amending the Base Load Review Act- Provides immediate rate relief to SCE&G customers, prevents/limits further cost recovery from the V.C. Summer project, repeals the Base Load Review Act, and directs the Public Service Commission to set interim rates without V.C. Summer costs during court challenges.
Law Passed? No

H. 4379: Consumer Advocate under Attorney General- Creates an independent consumer advocate, empowers the Office of Regulatory Staff to inspect utilities, and prohibits utilities from giving campaign contributions or gifts to the consumer advocate, the Attorney General, or his staff.
Law Passed? No

H. 4377: Changes to the Public Service Commission- This bill dismisses and replaces regulators who oversaw the V.C. Summer project, requires higher standards for Public Service Commission members, and adds greater oversight over the entire utility industry.
Law Passed? No

H. 4378: SC Public Utility Review Committee (PURC) Reform – “Utility Oversight Committee”- Renames PURC to Utility Oversight Committee and overhauls its duties.
Law Passed? No

H. 4376: Santee Cooper Board Reform- Immediately expires Santee Cooper Board members’ terms and appoints new members concurrently, moves Santee Cooper’s rate setting under the oversight of the Public Service Commission, and ensures that V.C. Summer costs are not included in Santee Cooper’s present or future rate base.
Law Passed? No

S. 954: Interim Rate Setting and Public Service Commission Merger Consideration- Prohibits the Public Service Commission from considering any proposed sale of SCANA until after November 1, 2018 and requires them to set an interim rate which eliminates the 18% average electric bill cost that goes toward V.C. Summer financing; recently amended by the Senate to reduce the amount to 5%, while also requiring 2018 federal utility tax benefits ALREADY BEING RECEIVED BY SCANA to be paid to consumers.
Law Passed? No

The Base Load Review Act created a business environment that fostered arguably the greatest utility fiasco in South Carolina history. The act lets the utility guarantee an unrealistic rate of return to investors without any accountability- SCE&G had no incentive to avoid cost overruns or even ensure that it finished construction because it could pass its liability straight to its customers.

To date, SCE&G’s customers have subsidized its nuclear plant construction failure to the tune of $2.5 billion in interest costs; and, if the status quo is maintained, will pay out a total of $10.2 billion over the next half century. This is completely legal under current South Carolina law. If the Base Load Review Act is not repealed, our state will always be at risk for another utility “scam.”

AARP SC has heard from almost 2,000 of our members about the financial strain caused by these imprudent rate hikes. We are sick and tired of hearing about South Carolinian’s with fixed or low incomes having to choose between buying food and medicine or paying their electric bills. While temperatures rise as we head into summer, our seniors are especially vulnerable if they cannot properly cool their homes. SCE&G customers should not be forced to fund excess profits and interest charges through these revised rates.

Don’t be mistaken, AARP SC is fuel neutral. We do not stand for or against any type of energy-whether it is nuclear, coal, solar, natural gas, wind, etc. What we do stand for are consumer protections, which are nowhere to be found in the language of the Base Load Review Act. It is time we make this bill history.

Take ACTION: Click here to contact your House and Senate member. Urge your House and Senate member to pass utility reform now!

The post It’s Time to Make The Base Load Review Act History appeared first on AARP States.

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