A collection of small businesses, environmental groups and others are joining forces to ask state regulators to reject part of a rate increase for South Carolina Electric & Gas to pay for nuclear power plants under construction.
President of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce Frank Knapp said Monday that the new “Stop The Blank Check” group wants the state Public Service Commission to deny SCE&G’s request to pass on $846 million in increased costs to the consumer.
“Right now there is a blank check that the company holds and they’re exercising that blank check by raising costs dramatically and delaying the plant’s construction,” Knapp said in a press conference at the Statehouse. He said the costs should be borne by SCE&G’s shareholders, not customers.
SCE&G’s two reactors under construction in Jenkinsville are way behind schedule and cost at least $4 billion more than first projected. SCE&G is asking the state Public Service Commission for its ninth rate increase since 2009 to pay for the plants.
Knapp said that this effort is not meant to scuttle the project. “There is noting that we are doing right now that is going to hinder them getting the job done efficiently and on time,” Knapp said.
A SCE&G spokesman said the utility has managed the project the best it can, but that there will always be unexpected costs. The spokesman maintained that the plants will save consumers money in the long run.
Under a 2007 law, the utility can have ratepayers pay for the plants before they are completed.