South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson waded definitively into the #NukeGate scandal this week, issuing a 57-page opinion related to a controversial 2007 piece of legislation that ushered in a decades of rate increases on Palmetto State citizens.
All for a nuclear power plant expansion project that is now unlikely to ever be built …
“The Base Load Review Act, which is constitutionally suspect, is unprecedented in South Carolina history,” Wilson said in a statement accompanying the opinion. “Our citizens have paid billions of dollars and got absolutely nothing from it but a money pit.”
The Base Load Review Act allowed publicly traded power company SCANA and government-owned utility Santee Cooper to raise rates on consumers to subsidize portions of their investment risk associated with the failed V.C. Summer nuclear power plant expansion project in Jenkinsville, S.C.
Was it constitutional?
According to the opinion – authored by S.C. solicitor general Bob Cook – the law is “presumed to be constitutionally valid,” but this presumption is extremely unlikely to hold up in court.
In other words, Wilson’s office believes – as do many state lawmakers – that the legislation is in fact unconstitutional.
One reason? It fails to adhere to the S.C. General Assembly’s obligation to regulate public and private utilities “to the extent required by the public interest.”
“It cannot be considered to be ‘in the public interest’ to charge ratepayers for capital costs of an unfinished and abandoned plant,” the opinion stated. “It is not ‘in the public interest’ to increase the power bills of consumers who receive nothing in return.”
We concur …
Additionally, Wilson’s opinion delves into whether the rate increases imposed upon South Carolina power consumers to subsidize the project constituted an illegal “taking” of private property – which would violate provisions of both federal and state constitutions.
Here is the complete opinion …
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(Via: S.C. Attorney General)
It’s obviously been a furious week of news related to #NukeGate.
Just yesterday, news broke that the attorney general – along with several ranking “Republicans” in the S.C. House of Representatives – is seeking the assistance of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in conducting a state-level criminal inquiry related to this failed $9.8 billion project.
A SLED spokesperson told us this week the agency has “received the legislature’s request to investigate SCANA and it is under review.”
That investigation could be conducted in concert with an existing federal probe, as last week news broke that agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were conducting a federal investigation related to the project (news of which was exclusively reported by this website).
SCANA and Santee Cooper spent the past decade collaborating on this project – which was supposed to have been operational a year ago at a cost of $9.8 billion. The money was spent, but the reactors were never finished. Or even half-finished. Not only that, estimates indicate they could cost another $9-16 billion to complete.
Unable to pony up its share of that amount, Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the deal on July 31 … killing an estimated 5,600 jobs, squandering billions of dollars in investment (including more than $2 billion raised through rate increases on consumers), throwing the state’s energy future into chaos, costing the government utility its credit rating and prompting a class action lawsuit against SCANA.
Documents released earlier this month revealed the utilities knew over a year-and-a-half ago the project was doomed – yet continued to raise rates on consumers anyway.
Badly exposed state lawmakers have been doing their best to whitewash their culpability in this matter – efforts we have been exposing from the very beginning. Of course their machinations were doomed to fail considering that many of the Senators and representatives currently “investigating” this disaster were directly responsible for bringing it about.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
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