South Carolina’s governor has appointed an interim commissioner on the state body which will decide whether customers will be further impacted by a nuclear project’s abandonment this summer, replacing a surprise resignation.
University of South Carolina Law School instructor Robert Bockman was appointed by Gov. Henry McMaster on Monday as an interim commissioner on the state Public Service Commission (PSC). He fills the sixth congressional district seat that came open last week when previous commissioner Nikiya Hall resigned. The appointment is effective immediately.
Bockman has been on the faculty at USC law for 24 years, but also has some experience in the energy regulation sector, serving as PSC’s staff counsel from 1977-1981. As counsel, he provided legal advice for commission members and represented the commission in court proceedings.
“It has never been more important for the Public Service Commission to be made up of public servants that will ask the difficult questions on behalf of South Carolinians, and I am confident that Mr. Bockman will do exactly that,” McMaster said in a statement.
Bockman’s first month on the job will be heavily scrutinized. He comes to the PSC as the commission considers requests by several anti-nuclear and business groups to have utility South Carolina Electric & Gas repay customers for its share of $9 billion spent on the ill-fated V.C. Summer nuclear expansion. The project was abandoned this summer by SCE&G and its state-owned partner Santee Cooper amid costly delays and the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.
SCE&G had also requested permission to continue charging customers for the costs of abandoning and refinancing the massive project. However, the utility withdrew that request earlier this year. Santee Cooper is not regulated by the commission since it is a public entity.
After leaving the commission in 1981, Bockman joined Carolina Power & Light Company as assistant general counsel, then practiced energy law at McNair Law Firm.
The 71-year-old Richland County resident is a 1968 graduate of Vanderbilt University, holds a Master of Arts from the University of Georgia, and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law.