Monday’s decision by South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) and state-owned utility Santee Cooper to stop construction of two multi-billion dollar reactors in Fairfield County led some state legislators to call for an overhaul in how large utility projects are reviewed.
The new SC Energy Caucus introduced itself Wednesday, with its members saying they will advocate for diverse options that lead to job growth and empower utility customers.
In a press release, the group said it wants to ensure that South Carolina’s homes and business have access to affordable energy options. Members said they also want to correct what they consider deficiencies among regulators like the state Public Service Commission and Office of Regulatory Staff they believe should have intervened much earlier in the process.
The abandonment of the reactors at VC Summer also caused more than 5,000 to lose their jobs. Ratepayers also paid more than $1 billion towards the project through higher power bills each month.
State Rep. Kirkman Finlay, R-Columbia, said the utility has to answer to its customers. “Accountability for the lost money and the ratepayers’ obligations going into the future is going to have to come,” he said at a press conference announcing the caucus at the Statehouse.
A large group of utility and construction workers who lost their jobs this week traveled to the Statehouse to make their voices heard. “I want to speak to all those here today who have lost their jobs. You deserve better,” state Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, said to applause.
SCE&G made the decision to abandon VC Summer’s two new reactors after Santee Cooper’s board of directors voted to no longer pay for construction after the design contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy following years of delays and billions in cost overruns.