Legislation crafted by special committees after construction was abandoned at the V.C. Summer nuclear facility will continue through the Statehouse this session, regardless of a proposed merger for the project’s majority owner.
“It really doesn’t have an effect on the legislation and I don’t think it should,” said Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews. “I think our work that we poured into and undertook for the better part of five or six months, it was all focused on doing what is right by the customer.”
Ott is Vice Chairman of the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee, formed after the July announcement that SCE&G and Santee Cooper would not complete the nuclear reactors for which customers are continuing to be billed.
“It doesn’t really matter as far as I’m concerned, which company we’re dealing with,” Ott said. “Our motivation and our direction should still continue to stay on the consumer, on the customers of SCANA and/or Dominion and also Santee Cooper and the co-ops.”
But the $14.6 billion deal could be contingent on the legislature allowing the utility to continue billing customers to pay for the unfinished nuclear reactors. That includes the current Base Load Review Act.
“We were able to identify throughout all the hearings that the Base Load Review Act has major problems,” Ott said. “And so we should continue with reforming that legislation or reforming that law so that we make sure that this never happens again… and that, I think, was what the biggest problem with the Base Load Review actually was — is that it allowed for rates to encompass the project even after it was abandoned. And for me, that’s is just not the way it should work.”
Ott is one of many committee members who said customers shouldn’t have to continue to pay for a project that won’t generate power for them. One of the proposals includes setting an interim rate that would remove those charges from consumers’ bills.
“Regardless if it’s SCANA that has the name on the bill or if it’s Dominion that has the name on the bill, I still don’t think that bill should reflect those charges,” Ott said.
Ott said he hopes legislators will pass the bills with regulations that prevent utilities from charging customers billions of dollars for capital projects that are never completed.