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SC has not hired advocate pushed for after nuclear debacle

One of the key reforms South Carolina lawmakers approved after a canceled nuclear project cost ratepayers billions of dollars was a consumer advocate to argue on behalf of ratepayers.
But nearly 18 months later, the position has not been filled.
The state Department of Consumer Affairs has posted the job twice and is currently undertaking a national search after a round of interviews of applicants in October, agency spokeswoman Bailey Parker said.
The agency’s director and a different consumer advocate have filled in when needed and can continue to do so, Parker said.
“Even if we don’t hire the consumer advocate in the next month, when we put together our program and we feel like there’s a need to intervene we will,” Parker told The Post and Courier of Charleston
Much of the delay wasn’t the agency’s fault. Even though the advocate position was approved in 2018, the $90,000 to pay the salary for the new hire wasn’t approved until the next year’s budget.
The advocate will have critical work before regulators.
Duke Energy is planning to appeal a decision the Public Service Commission made in one of its rate cases to the state Supreme Court and Dominion Energy is expected to ask for what could be a substantial rate hike after buying South Carolina Electric & Gas in the wake of the abandoned nuclear reactor construction project.
Some legislators that pushed for utility reforms are stunned it is taking so long to hire the advocate.
“The one person put back in place to look out for the ratepayer isn’t a priority?” Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter McCoy from Charleston said. “I have no words.”
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Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com

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