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#NukeGate: SC Attorney General Opinion Coming Next Week

Bracing for another bombshell …

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Earlier today, this website reported exclusively on the latest developments related to #NukeGate – South Carolina’s spectacularly failed government intervention in the power generation industry.

Specifically, we reported that there were rumored constitutional issues associated with the now-notorious “Base Load Review Act” (BLRA), which was pushed through the S.C. General Assembly a decade ago by liberal members of both parties – and allowed to become law by former “Republican” governor Mark Sanford.

This legislation enabled the socialization of billions of dollars of investment risk related to the construction of two recently abandoned nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C.

Shortly after our story broke, we received a response from Robert Kittle – spokesman to S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.

According to Kittle, Wilson’s office received a request late last month from several state lawmakers seeking an opinion on the 2007 law.  The lawmakers – including Murrell Smith of Sumter, Leon Stavrinakis of Charleston and Gary Simrill of Rock Hill – expressed “concerns about the overall constitutionality” of the legislation.

The letter did not specify what those “concerns” were, but we’ve heard similar rumblings from lawmakers about the constitutionality of this ill-conceived bill.

Here’s the letter they sent to Wilson …

(Click to view)

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(Via: S.C. Attorney General)

Kittle says Wilson’s office will issue its response to this letter next week – which could be the latest bombshell development in this radioactive scandal.

Obviously, opinions from the attorney general’s office are just that … opinions.  And of late there’s been plenty of controversy surrounding them.  Attorney general opinions also lack the force of law – although they have been used by courts to help interpret the law.

This isn’t an ordinary case, though.

S.C. solicitor general Bob Cook and his staff will be weighing in on an issue that is dominating headlines across the state – and which is already the focus of multiple lawsuits.  Their opinion could conceivably spawn additional legal action against the state.

In other words there is a ton of pressure on Cook and his staff to get it right.

To recap: Government-run utility Santee Cooper and its private sector partner SCANA spent the past decade collaborating on these two next-generation reactors at a cost of $9.8 billion.

Unfortunately, the reactors – which were supposed to be operational a year ago – still haven’t been finished.  Not only that, some estimates indicate they could cost another $9 billion to complete (i.e. double the original cost).  For its part, Santee Cooper claimed another $16 billion would be required to finish the V.C. Summer expansion project – nearly triple the original cost estimate.

Unable to pony up its share of that amount, 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.

That lawsuit has been empowered by damning documents revealing that both partners in this project knew eighteen months ago that it was doomed.

We’ll be keeping a close eye out for the attorney general’s opinion.

As noted in our previous coverage, “none of this post hoc maneuvering will result in a ratepayers getting a single dime of their money back, but it could protect citizens from unnecessary rate hikes moving forward.”

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Banner via S.C. Attorney General’s Office


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