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#NukeGate Flashback: NextEra Lobbyists Pushed Base Load Review Act

Be careful who you listen to, South Carolina lawmakers …

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We have no beef with NextEra Energy.  We know many of the Florida-based firm’s South Carolina operatives (the ones that are out in the open, anyway) and we get along with them just fine.  NextEra also ran a nifty television spot during the local affiliate advertising block for Super Bowl LII.

Pricey … but very pretty.  And perfectly messaged.

More importantly, if NextEra ever comes up with a better deal for Palmetto State ratepayers than what’s currently on the table to extricate them from the #NukeGate disaster (a command economic debacle exclusively authored by the S.C. General Assembly), we’re all ears.

Will they?  The chatter continues, but as of this writing we’re all still waiting.

It is curious, though, that a firm which bills itself as the solution to a multi-billion dollar problem is represented by so many of the people who created that problem in the first place.  Specifically, two of the eight (that’s right, eight) lobbyists currently retained by NextEra to influence South Carolina lawmakers played starring roles in creating #NukeGate.

We’re referring to former S.C. House labor commerce and industry committee chairman Harry Cato and former S.C. senator (and 2006 Democratic gubernatorial nominee) Tommy Moore – two politicos this new site has taken a dim view of since its inception over a decade ago.

As lawmakers, Cato and Moore were lead sponsors of the now notorious Base Load Review Act (BLRA) – a piece of special interest legislation advanced by liberal lawmakers and allowed to become law in 2007 by former governor Mark Sanford.  Under the terms of this glorified handout, crony capitalist power provider SCANA and government-owned utility Santee Cooper were able to effectively socialize more than $2 billion of the investment risk associated with #NukeGate – the botched construction of a pair of next generation nuclear reactors in Fairfield County, S.C.

 

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Cato was the author of the bill in the S.C. House of Representatives, while Moore was its lead Democratic supporter and primary co-sponsor in the State Senate.

According to documents filed with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC), both Cato and Moore are now registered lobbyists for NextEra.

Why would a company purporting to solve the #NukeGate debacle hire the two former lawmakers most directly responsible for it? 

Good question …

To be clear: Virginia-based Dominion Energy has gone out and hired plenty of influential Palmetto politicos – including former governor Jim Hodges and his one-time chief of staff, Billy Boan.  But the firm at least had the good sense not to retain anyone with their fingerprints all over the biggest command economic boondoggle in the history of the state.

As we’ve exclusively reported on several prior occasions, NextEra has reportedly been preparing an offer to purchase both SCANA and Santee Cooper.  And several state lawmakers have been negotiating offline with the company regarding that offer.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have responded cooly to a $14.6 billion offer from Dominion to purchase SCANA – a deal that would provide ratepayers with $1.3 billion in immediate relief and reduce their future obligations associated with the scuttled reactors.  Unfortunately, the Dominion deal would keep ratepayers on the hook for the project over the next two decades – an arrangement lawmakers have said is unacceptable.

Really?  Maybe they shouldn’t have pushed the costs of this project on our backs in the first place!

Anyway, the Dominion deal is currently the only game in town … but if that changes we’ll be sure to let our readers know the particulars of any alternative offer(s).

In the meantime, we think it’s important for the current crop of lawmakers to familiarize themselves with exactly who sold the state this bill of goods in the first place.

Because they can’t afford to make the same mistakes twice …

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