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Henry McMaster Asks SCANA Not To Raise Rates

Governor also urges beleaguered utility to provide refunds to ratepayers …

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South Carolina governor Henry McMaster’s longtime political Svengali was indicted this week.  Making matters worse for the incumbent “Republican,” one of the entities at the epicenter of the ongoing, multi-jurisdictional criminal probe targeting this advisor’s political empire is a government agency that paid McMaster big bucks in the not-too-distant past.

Yeah … not good.

Perhaps not surprisingly, McMaster is eager to change the topic of conversation … although upon reflection, we’re not sure he picked the best subject.

In a letter sent today to Kevin Marsh, chairman and chief executive officer of beleaguered crony capitalist utility SCANA, McMaster called on the company to “immediately cease collecting approximately $37 million per month from ratepayers for its abandoned nuclear project.”

Not only that, McMaster wants SCANA to use its portion of a bankruptcy settlement related to this project to “begin refunding to ratepayers money collected for the construction of the nuclear reactors in Fairfield County.”

“It is unreasonable and oppressive for SCANA to require its customers to bear the burden of actions and decisions in which customers played no part and over which they had no control,” McMaster wrote.

We agree … but is he really the politician to raise these points?

No … 

McMaster’s letter is the latest development related to #NukeGate – a spectacularly failed command economic intervention in the state’s energy sector.   SCANA and its partner – government-run utility Santee Cooper – spent the past decade collaborating on a massive expansion of the V.C. Summer nuclear power station in Jenkinsville, S.C.  This project was supposed to have produced a pair of next-generation AP1000 pressurized water reactors at a cost of $9.8 billion.  The money was spent, but the reactors were never finished.  In fact, they’re not even half-finished.  Not only that, 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 two-and-a-half months ago.  That decision killed an estimated 5,600 jobs, squandered billions of dollars in investment (including more than $2 billion raised through rate increases on consumers) and threw the state’s energy future into chaos.

Documents released last month revealed executives at the two utilities knew over a year-and-a-half ago the project was doomed – yet continued to raise rates on consumers anyway.  Not surprisingly, the project’s failure has spawned numerous lawsuits and a pair of criminal investigations – one state, one federal.  It has also created potentially career-ending consequences for politicians who approved the projects … as well as for former governor Mark Sanford, who allowed the now-notorious Base Load Review Act to become law without his signature.

Passed in 2007, the Base Load Review Act allowed the utilities involved in the V.C. Summer expansion to socialize their investment risk – and guaranteed them specific profit margins in the process.

No wonder they didn’t care how this project was managed … or whether it was ever finished.

Anyway, here is McMaster’s letter …

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(Via: S.C. Governor)

Our view? McMaster is desperate to change the subject … it’s as simple as that.

He wants to be perceived as standing up to SCANA, but the reality is he’s been a stooge for the company for years.

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