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#NukeGate: Santee Cooper Documents Subpoenaed, Too

Federal investigation ensnares state-owned utility, too …

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In the immortal words of Ron Burgandy, “that escalated quickly.”

One day after our website exclusively reported on a federal investigation into South Carolina’s mushrooming #NukeGate scandal (and hours after we exclusively reported on a possible focus of that probe), both of the major players in the drama have confirmed receiving subpoenas from government investigators.

First it was SCANA, a publicly traded Cayce S.C. company, which publicly acknowledged our reporting via a press release.  Hours later, reporter Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press reported that government-run utility Santee Cooper had also received a federal subpoena demanding the production of documents.

Obviously, these acknowledgments constitute a major escalation of this scandal – which has been nothing short of a thermonuclear detonation on the Palmetto State’s political world.

SCANA and Santee Cooper have spent the past decade collaborating on a pair of next-generation nuclear reactors – which were supposed to have been operational a year ago at a cost of $9.8 billion.  The money was spent, but the reactors aren’t 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, on July 31 Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the project … 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.  There’s also a looming S.C. attorney general’s opinion on the now-notorious “Base Load Review Act,” which lawmakers rammed through the legislature a decade ago as a means of socializing the investment risk associated with the project.

State lawmakers have been scrambling for political cover in the aftermath of the “meltdown,” but their hearings have only further exposed their starring role in this debacle.

In fact many of the lawmakers “investigating” the disaster were sponsors of the legislation that created it – and have been lining their pockets with contributions from the utilities.

Now we’ll find out if the rabbit hole goes even deeper …

As we exclusively reported yesterday, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attended a House hearing on #NukeGate last week – and a Senate hearing on the matter earlier this week.  We’re also informed that assets of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are involved in the investigation.

Stay tuned … as we noted earlier today, this scandal has officially jumped to a “higher energy level.”

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