An appeals court has agreed to keep intact for now a law requiring lower power rates for SCE&G customers.
The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday refused to issue a stay on the lower rates while it considers arguments from SCE&G’s lawsuit. The decision was a victory for state lawmakers and customers who will not have to pay for debt on an ill-fated nuclear expansion.
“This is another big win for SCE&G ratepayers,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement. “We’ve argued that customers should not have to pay billions of dollars for a hole in the ground. The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized that it would be inappropriate to halt the General Assembly’s reduction of customers’ rates.”
State legislators required the 15 percent rate cut while the state Public Service Commission considers how much — if any — customers should pay for the utility’s nuclear debt in the future. A lower judge had earlier refused to stop the rates despite SCE&G’s lawsuit.
The average customer is paying $22 less per month with the nuclear surcharge taken out.
SCE&G claims the legislature unconstitutionally changed how it could recover nuclear debt after it had already sunk $5 billion into the V.C. Summer expansion. SCE&G and its partner Santee Cooper abandoned further construction last year.
The appeals court also rejected arguments from state officials that the lawsuit should be dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction.