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SCANA To Unveil Modest Rate Cuts

“Quadruple it and they can still kiss my ass …”

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Too little, too late …

That’s the response we’re hearing in the aftermath of crony capitalist utility SCANA’s plan to trim consumers’ bills by 3.5 percent in the aftermath of #NukeGate – the company’s failed collaboration with state-owned utility Santee Cooper on a pair of next generation nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C.

“Those greedy bastards,” one state lawmaker told us bluntly.

That’s harsh … but hard to argue with.

SCANA consumers saw their rates climb by as much as 18.3 percent to fund these reactors.  Our guess is the prospect of getting less than one-fifth of that increase taken off of their monthly bills isn’t exactly going to knock their socks off.

Assuming the utility even follows through on its proposal …

“I’m underwhelmed,” one source close to the deliberations told us, adding that the utility would likely invite a fresh wave of public criticism if it follows through with such a modest rate decrease.

That assessment certainly seems accurate …

“Quadruple it and they can still kiss my ass,” one disgruntled ratepayer told us when informed they might get one-fifth of their money back from the failed project moving forward.

Obviously SCANA is deserving of considerable derision in this matter, but let’s not forget that crony capitalism requires the imprimatur of government if it is to be effectuated.

South Carolina lawmakers – many of whom are now rattling their sabres and posing as “investigators” – have played a starring role in this catastrophic case study of the perils of government intervention.  In fact the Palmetto State’s “Republican-controlled” legislature – and former governor Mark Sanford – are dead-to-rights responsible for the multi-billion dollar debacle.

Their approval of the now-infamous, constitutionally dubious “Base Load Review Act” put Palmetto State electricity ratepayers on the hook for billions of dollars in construction costs related to the V.C. Summer expansion project (below).

(Click to view)

(Via: Friends of the Earth)

As we noted in a piece last month, crony capitalism only exists in this state because our bought-and-paid-for politicians permit it, and because they spend your money perpetuating it.

SCANA and Santee Cooper spent the past decade building the aforementioned AP1000 pressurized nuclear water reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C. at a cost of $9.8 billion.  The money was spent, but these reactors were never finished.  In fact they’re not even half-finished – with the cost to complete them reportedly ranging anywhere from $9-16 billion.

Unable to pony up that kind of cash, Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the project on July 31 … killing an estimated 5,600 jobs, squandering billions of dollars in investment (including more than $2 billion raised through rate increases on consumers) and throwing the state’s energy future into chaos.

Recently released documents revealed executives at the two utilities knew over a year-and-a-half ago that the project was doomed – yet continued to raise rates on consumers anyway.  In fact, ratepayers are shelling out an estimated $37 million per month on these reactors … still.

Not surprisingly, the failure of this project has spawned numerous lawsuits and a pair of criminal investigations – one state, one federal.

It’s also cratered SCANA’s stock price and prompted a desperate effort on the part of governor Henry McMaster to unload Santee Cooper … for a song.

At least one deal involving the proposed sale of part of the Jenkinsville project has already been nixed by SCANA, McMaster and the electric cooperatives that effectively run Santee Cooper.

That offer was exclusively reported by this news site.

Both SCANA and the electric cooperatives are major contributors to McMaster’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign (see here and here).

Where does this scandal go from here?

Who knows … but our guess is this latest effort is unlikely to appease those looking to be made whole in the aftermath of the #NukeGate debacle.

***

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