Gov. Henry McMaster kept his word and vetoed a bill Thursday which would temporarily eliminate most of the V.C. Summer nuclear expansion-related power rates for SCE&G customers, saying lawmakers did not go far enough.
The House and Senate promptly overrode him less than an hour later.
“I am vetoing this bill because it is unacceptable, irresponsible, and unconscionable for any South Carolinian to pay another dime to SCANA for the abandoned V.C. Summer reactors in Fairfield County,” McMaster’s veto message stated.
McMaster returned his veto just one day after the House and Senate reached the compromise. The 15 percent reduction was a middle ground from the original House plan which would have repealed the entire 18 percent of customer bills that went towards the ill-fated V.C. Summer nuclear project’s expansion and the Senate plan which would have repealed the 13 percent its auditors estimated SCE&G could absorb without risking bankruptcy.
Some members of a House committee which investigated the V.C. Summer project criticized the governor. “This was a political move to make himself look a lot stronger and a lot tougher on this issue than he really is,” State Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews said. “And unfortunately what he’s doing is playing with the lives of every single customer of South Carolina Electric & Gas.”
The governor said he thought the entire nuclear surcharge should be removed, but legislators felt they only had the authority to offset rate hikes after problems began on the nuclear project in 2010.
McMaster’s opponent in the governor’s race State Rep. James Smith, D-Columbiam did not vote on the veto Thursday after previously voting against the bill for similar reasons as McMaster.