The lead utility behind an ill-fated nuclear project has sued in an attempt to stop South Carolina regulators from slashing its power rates.
SCANA Corporation filed the lawsuit in federal court Monday against the state Public Service Commission, arguing the law passed by legislators last week is unconstitutional. The state House and Senate overrode Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto of H.4375 on Thursday.
The new law would, among other things, require the commission significantly reduce the rate SCANA’s utility SCE&G is charging customers to pay back debt on the V.C. Summer nuclear project’s expansion. The law would require the PSC eliminate any rate increases after 2010, or roughly 15 percent of SCE&G power bills.
In the filing, SCANA attorneys claim the company had made the massive investment in V.C. Summer with the understanding that the 2007 Base Load Review Act would allow it to recover debt from ratepayers should the project fail.
“Now, despite existing law… and the fact there are and have been ongoing proceedings to evaluate SCE&G’s construction efforts, the General Assembly has elected to change the proverbial rules of the game after it has ended,” the complaint stated.
The PSC is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon to take up the law and its impact on SCANA.
SCANA is hoping that a federal court filing could avoid state court judges who are appointed by the same legislators who passed the law. However, it will have to make the case that a federal courtroom is an appropriate venue. The utility argued the legislature is violating its “due process” rights under the U.S. Constitution.
The other utility involved in the project state-owned Santee Cooper is not regulated by the PSC and was not covered by last week’s law.