The order – issued by S.C. circuit court judge John Hayes – will award an estimated $180-200 million to beleaguered ratepayers of former crony capitalist utility SCANA, which was purchased last December by Virginia-based Dominion Energy. More than $115 million of that sum will be paid in cash, while another $60-85 million would be paid from the sale of several properties.
According to Hayes’ ruling, Wilson’s office played a critical role in the case by targeting the constitutionally dubious Base Load Review Act (BLRA) – a measure passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly in 2007 to kickstart construction of a pair of next-generation nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C.
These reactors were never completed. In fact, they were abandoned in 2017 after SCANA and its government partner, Santee Cooper, spent billions of dollars on their botched construction.
Wilson blasted the BLRA – which paved the way for the socialization of more than $2 billion in investment risk related to the project – as “unprecedented in South Carolina history.”
“For their part, plaintiffs recognized the importance of the BLRA and launched a well-reasoned attack on its constitutionality aided by the excellent efforts of the attorney general,” Hayes’ ruling noted.
Wilson was also credited by Hayes for driving down attorneys’ fees related to the case – with the law firms representing the plaintiff class actually lowering their requested fees on the basis of his contributions to the case.
Specifically, Hayes’ ruling referenced “the valuable assistance provided by the attorney general on the BLRA constitutional issue.”
In a statement, Wilson said he was “glad to see that the judge and the lawyers involved recognized how crucial the work done by the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of ratepayers was in settling this case.”
“We fought to get as much money as possible for the ratepayers,” Wilson added.
Hayes awarded a total of $51 million in fees to five law firms – well below the $66 million they initially requested. Of interest? Columbia, S.C. personal injury attorney Robert Dodson – who slammed the proposed fees of other attorneys as “outrageously high” – was awarded $3 million from the settlement “for his work challenging the legal fees,” according to reporter Andrew Brown of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
Ponder the irony of that …
Current and former SCANA customers interested in learning more about this case are encouraged to visit the settlement website. An estimated 866,554 current ratepayers and 742,193 former ratepayers are eligible to receive compensation, according to Hayes’ ruling.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? Please feel free to submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for us? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE. Want to support what we’re doing? SUBSCRIBE HERE.