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SLED Entering #NukeGate Probe

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South Carolina law enforcement assets could soon become part of the ongoing criminal investigation into #NukeGate – the Palmetto State’s spectacularly failed experiment in government-run power generation.

According to multiple sources familiar with the status of the inquiry, the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is preparing to launch its own probe into the debacle.  It’s not clear whether this investigation would run independent of – or in conjunction with – the federal investigation that launched last week (news of which was exclusively reported by FITSNews).

As we exclusively reported last week, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attended a House hearing on #NukeGate two weeks ago – and a Senate hearing on the matter last week.

SLED’s involvement in this investigation was requested this week by S.C. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas, along with state representatives Russell Ott and Peter McCoy.  The three lawmakers alleged in a letter that “criminal fraud through the concealment of material information” may have been responsible for the project’s “disastrous collapse.”

In case you missed last week’s headlines, federal agents have issued subpoenas to both of the utilities at the heart of this scandal – publicly traded power company SCANA and Santee Cooper, a government-owned utility.

What are they looking for?  Good question, but we’re told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is working alongside the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in its investigation of both utilities.

SCANA and Santee Cooper spent the past decade collaborating on a pair of next-generation nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C.  This expansion of the V.C. Summer nuclear power station 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.

(Click to view)

(Via: Santee Cooper)

Unable to pony up its share of that amount, on July 31 Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the deal … 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.

According to a letter sent to SLED by Lucas, Ott and McCoy, “it is necessary for (the agency) to examine the situation for potential criminality on the part of SCANA and its principal subsidiary, SCE&G.”

“If, as we suspect, criminal activity exists at the root of the V.C. Summer disaster, it is imperative that it be discovered as quickly as possible and that those responsible are held accountable for their actions,” the letter continued.

Good … although as we’ve repeatedly pointed out in our prior coverage, state legislators are badly exposed when it comes to this particular debacle.  Specifically, we’re referring to 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.

South Carolina lawmakers are (surprise) doing their best to whitewash their culpability in this matter – efforts we have been exposing from the very beginning.  Their machinations were doomed to fail considering many of the Senators and representatives currently “investigating” this disaster are directly responsible for bringing it about.

Also exposed?  Former S.C. governor Mark Sanford, who allowed the controversial “Base Load Review Act” to become law.

A source familiar with these investigations told us state and/ or federal grand juries could be used to obtain internal documents SCANA and Santee Cooper might not want to turn over.

“The FBI is better equipped to handle this type of large document investigation,” our source said.  “I expect that they they will do a joint investigation and look for violations of state and federal laws.”

State and federal investigators are already collaborating on #ProbeGate, an ongoing investigation into criminal corruption at the S.C. State House.  It makes sense they would collaborate on this inquiry as well.

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