House votes to stop SCE&G from charging customers for failed nuclear plants

VC Summer Nuclear Site, Jenkinsville, S.C. (SCE&G)

The South Carolina House has passed legislation that would remove the $27 average monthly charge that customers of a private utility pay for two nuclear plants that will likely never be built.

The proposal was part of a bill passed Wednesday to repeal a law that allowed South Carolina Electric & Gas to charge for the plants before they generated any power.\

SCE&G and partner Santee Cooper eventually charged customers close to $2 billion. The bill stops SCE&G from charging for the plants at least until regulators and courts hear SCE&G's challenge that it still deserves the money.

House Speaker Jay Lucas took the rare step Wednesday of coming down to the House floor to lay out his support for the amendment.

"Today, our members followed through with our commitment to halt SCE&G from recouping more of its customers' hard-earned dollars for the failed VC Summer nuclear project," Lucas said. "Once today's bill is signed into law, consumers can rest assured that utility companies will never take advantage of ratepayers' trust under the Base Load Review Act again."

The bill now goes to the Senate for discussion. Gov. Henry McMaster says he will sign the bill if both branches of the General Assembly pass it.

The proposal casts doubt on a proposed takeover of SCE&G by Virginia-based Dominion Energy, which said its offer hinged on being able to charge for the abandoned plants for at least 20 years.

SCE&G and state-owned Santee Cooper spent billions on the incomplete reactors.

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