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Amy Ryberg Doyle: SC Energy Fiasco Needs Private Sector Solution

More government meddling will make things worse …

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by AMY RYBERG DOYLE || As a businesswoman I believe in the power of the marketplace to create change, foster innovation, expand opportunity and build lasting prosperity for all people.

Unfortunately, the scandal engulfing SCANA and Santee Cooper over two abandoned nuclear reactors in Fairfield County shows state government is struggling to grasp this concept.  Living in Greenville, our homes and businesses have not been impacted by the V.C. Summer fiasco to nearly the same extent as customers of SCANA and Santee Cooper.  But all Palmetto State taxpayers will eventually have to pay their share of the price for this $10 billion boondoggle – especially if we continue allowing government to stand in the way of a free market solution.

There is no “right answer” when government racks up massive debt and socializes billions of dollars in private investment on an asset that is ultimately abandoned.  The “right answer” would have been to refrain from embarking on such a speculative project in the first place – or providing the sort of oversight and accountability that was promised to ratepayers and taxpayers when this project was initially undertaken.

Unfortunately, the debate is moot.  When it comes to these reactors we are now eleven years and billions of dollars in the rearview mirror – meaning state leaders need to take corrective action now that maximizes ratepayer relief to the fullest extent possible under the law. Or to put it more succinctly, they must get out of the way and allow the private sector to do its job.

Members of the S.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) can resolve this fiasco today by allowing a $14.6 billion private sector merger – and an accompanying civil settlement that contains $2 billion in ratepayer relief – to move forward.  Meanwhile Columbia politicians can refrain from further harmful meddling – and start taking the steps necessary to secure South Carolina’s energy future for generations to come rather than allowing it to be clouded any further than it already is.

Government plays a vital role in our lives – but we must also acknowledge its rightful role in the marketplace.  Government exists to preserve our individual freedoms, our safety and our property while promoting equality of opportunity and creating the best possible conditions for widespread economic growth.  By definition, that ought to be a limited role.  That is the philosophy the Republican party stands for, and that is the philosophy I will bring to the South Carolina Senate if given the opportunity to do so on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers of Greenville County.

In the meantime, I encourage the PSC to take decisive action this week by approving the private sector solution that provides maximum ratepayer relief and closes the door once and for all on our state’s bungled government intervention in the energy marketplace.  Failure to do so will only ensure that the headaches currently experienced by our friends and neighbors in the Midlands and Pee Dee regions of the state work their way up to taxpayers in Greenville.

Amy Ryberg Doyle is a member of Greenville city council and a Republican candidate for S.C. Senate District 6 in the GOP primary election on January 22.

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