AARP South Carolina supports a full repeal of the Base Load Review Act, which allowed SCE&G to charge customers for the nuclear power plant as it was being constructed. Unfortunately, accountability and transparency went by the wayside with the passage of the BLRA. Click here to tell your state senator to pass House Bill 4375 or call this toll free number 1-844-250-5544 to be connected to your Senator.
The Base Load Review Act was signed into law in May 2007. The following year SCE&G and Santee Cooper used the new law to launch the building of two nuclear facilities at SCE&G’s VC Summer plant in Jenkinsville. Since the beginning of the project ratepayers have been hit with multiple rate increases resulting in SCE&G customers spending 18% of their monthly electric bill on a project that has failed.
In 2017 the project’s major contractor, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy. Last July, SCE&G and Santee Cooper announced they planned to abandon the project and leave the ratepayers holding the bill. AARP South Carolina also formally intervened in support of the Office of Regulatory Staff’s petition filed on September 26th for rate relief and so became a party to the case.
H. 4375 allows a rollback of all rate increases attributed to the BLRA but also ensures these statutory changes can withstand a constitutional challenge. Therefore, the rate is called an “experimental rate,” and will take place 5 days after the passage of H.4375. However, the rate will only last until the PSC rules on the actions of SCE&G’s poor handling of the VC Summer nuclear power plant construction.
Why This Matters
According to the most recent Department of Energy report South Carolina consumers pay higher electric rates than consumers in Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, West Virginia, and Alabama.
Home energy costs make up a sizable portion of household budgets particularly for older adults. Although they consume approximately as much energy as younger people do, older South Carolinians devote a higher percentage of their total spending to residential energy costs. They spend a greater proportion of their income to heat their homes (this is true even after statistics are adjusted for weather and home size). Too often older adults with low incomes must choose between their energy bills and other basic necessities such as medicine and food. As a result they often up risking their health or comfort.
For quite some time, AARP SC members and volunteers have expressed concern both publicly and privately about the VC Summer project and the undue burden the Base Load Review Act places on their financial well-being.
Consumers and ratepayers shoulder the brunt of bad decision making, lack of accountability, lack of access to information, and a law that does not provide consumers and their advocates with the tools needed to determine if the rate increases are reasonable or even if the project is viable. So now we have a situation where, in the words of House Speaker Lucas, “ratepayers are the only truly innocent party.”
H4379 – Consumer Advocate
AARP South Carolina believes H. 4379 provides a good statutory framework for a true consumer advocate. The consumer advocate has funding independence from the Public Service Commission, and the power to appeal commission decisions. We support any efforts to provide as much insulation from political pressure as can be built into the office. Going forward, stable funding and courageous personnel are other important aspects for an effective consumer advocate.
What you can do
Click here to tell your state senator to pass House Bill 4375 or call this toll free number 1-844-250-5544 to be connected to your Senator.