It’s been over a month since powerful South Carolina Senate president Hugh Leatherman launched his poorly calculated response to #NukeGate – a costly case study in just how wrong things can go when government tries to run a power company (and when government allows private power companies to socialize their investment risk on the backs of consumers).
To recap: Government-run utility Santee Cooper and its private sector partner SCANA partnered to produce a pair of next-generation nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C. at a cost of $9.8 billion.
The money was spent … but the reactors still haven’t been finished. In fact, some estimates indicate they could cost another $9 billion to complete. For its part, Santee Cooper claimed another $16 billion was required to finish the project.
Unable to pony up its share of that cost, Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the deal … a decision that killed an estimated 5,600 jobs, squandered billions of dollars in investment (including more than $2 billion raised through rate increases on consumers), threw South Carolina’s energy future into chaos, cost Santee Cooper its credit rating and prompted a class action lawsuit against SCANA.
The latest developments? Damning documents have been released revealing that both partners in this project knew eighteen months ago that it was doomed.
Also, it’s been revealed the top government bureaucrat associated with this disaster got a $16 million golden parachute . Because lavishly rewarding spectacular failure is just what South Carolina does … like, habitually. On literally everything its government touches.
Leatherman’s response to all of this? Appointing the same politicians who presided over this debacle to “investigate” the situation and propose “solutions.”
Not surprisingly, we panned that idea.
“Many of the politicians responsible for this (scandal) now want ratepayers to believe they should be part of the ‘solution,'” we wrote at the time.
Crazy, right? Yes.
“Don’t fall for it,” we warned.
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(Via Travis Bell Photography)
Nobody did. The ruse didn’t work, and Leatherman was in the papers just a week later issuing ultimatums to the companies involved.
Which also, hasn’t worked …
Anyway, as we noted in our original coverage of Leatherman’s panel, several of the politicians he appointed to investigate the #NukeGate disaster were actually lead sponsors of the 2007 bill that landed our state in this mess in the first place.
We’re referring of course to the infamous “Base Load Review Act,” which we’re told is in the midst of some long-overdue constitutional scrutiny (which could soon lead to additional uncomfortable headlines for the lawmakers who foisted it upon us).
Among the sponsors of the bill Leatherman included on his panel? Liberal “Republicans” Thomas Alexander, Greg Gregory and powerful judiciary chairman Luke Rankin.
For the purposes of this column, we’re focusing on Rankin (below).
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Why? Well, in addition to being a lead sponsor of this legislation – which former governor Mark Sanford allowed to sail across his desk – the “former” Democrat was a member of the S.C. Senate judiciary subcommittee that pushed this legislation to the floor of the Senate.
In other words, he’s on the record.
Unlike the final passage of this legislation (which was conveniently accomplished via a voice vote), there’s actually a recorded vote advancing it with Rankin’s name on it.
Also on the record? Likely 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Scott, who might want to start rethinking his prospective statewide candidacy.
Because this makes him a non-starter.
It’s been a bad month for Rankin, whose questionable proximity to the collapsing political empire of “Republican” consultant Richard Quinn was laid bare in this post.
Quinn’s firm, incidentally, boasted SCANA as one of its many clients.
The only good news right about now for Rankin? Like other “contaminated” Senators, he doesn’t have to face the voters again until 2020.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
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