Some South Carolina Senate Republicans say they do not want to rush to pass several bills proposed to address the abandonment of nuclear construction at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station last year and the resulting costs to ratepayers.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, said Tuesday he thinks it important the right legislation is passed dealing with the issue. Last week the House approved a bill that would prevent South Carolina Electric & Gas from charging customers for the unfinished nuclear reactors if it merges with Dominion Energy.
“I think we move quickly, but I also think we make sure that we know what we’re doing before we move on it,” he said. “I’m hopeful that we may even have some subcommittee meetings on that bill this week and probably have another set of subcommittee meetings on it next week.”
The House has approved three different bills overall, which also change how utilities are regulated and how those regulators are chosen by the legislature.
“We understood the House was going to act more quickly on some of these things,” Massey said. “They had them queued up quicker than we did.”
Massey said he hopes to have the first bill on the Senate calendar by the end of the month.
“I think it’s important that we put it through the subcommittee process and look through it and study it and understand all the consequences of it,” he said. “The idea is just to make sure that we understand the consequences of passing the bill or not passing the bill before we move on it.”
“Massey said he doesn’t want the legislature to make the same mistake it did when it passed the Base Load Review Act in 2007.
“One of the problems with the Base Load Review Act is that it came through with very little scrutiny and I think a lot of folks would acknowledge now that they didn’t — maybe they didn’t understand all the potential consequences of that bill,” he said.
The Base Load Review act allowed SCE&G and Santee Cooper to raise customer rates for money to pay for the now-abandoned nuclear reactors, striking out previous state law which required the sites be operational before charging customers for repayment.
“I think it is important that we get it right,” State Sen. Thomas Alexander, R-Oconee, said. “I think changes need to be made going through the subcommittee process and the committee process would be vital to make sure that we do get the information that’s necessary to make the right changes that’s going to be beneficial.”
Since the utilities announced in July they were giving up construction on the nuclear reactors, ad-hoc legislative committees met in the following months to draft legislation that would prevent such a situation from happening again.