COLUMBIA (AP) South Carolina lawmakers met again almost two weeks after the General Assembly adjourned its regular session, but still could not reach a compromise on bills about the failed nuclear reactor project in the state and cutting power rates.
A conference committee of House members and senators met May 23 for a third time, focusing solely on temporary rate cuts for utility customers.
House members proposed adopting the Senate’s 13 percent rate cut plan. The cut would be effective back to August 2017 when SCANA Corp. abandoned work on the reactors and it would give customers of SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas $300 million in credits. The Public Service Commission would have five days from the effective date of the bill to decide how to get the refund to customers.
Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler said he was concerned about the legality of the House’s proposal.
“I think you’ve got to realize that when they started this plant, it didn’t start as a failure,” said Setzler, D-West Columbia. “None of us agree with what SCANA is doing, but you have to keep in mind you’re dealing within the four corners of these two bills and what we can do legally.”
Republican Rep. Peter McCoy of Charleston said lawsuits could be inevitable no matter what decision the General Assembly makes, and the new effective date proposed by the House was the best way moving forward to protect ratepayers. Rep. Kirkman Finlay said SCE&G should not profit off of a failure.
Lawmakers should stop worrying about potential lawsuits or other problems and focus on where they stand now, Finlay said.
“I don’t think the average SCE&G customer cares about the formula that produces a credit on their bill. They just want the largest possible credit for an enormous failure that they had no control over,” Finlay said.
The committee plans to meet again, but a date has not been determined.