Many electric customers in South Carolina apparently do not realize their power bills are subsidizing debt from a failed $9 billion nuclear expansion project which was abandoned last year, according to a new poll.
The Clout Research poll was done for the conservative advocacy group South Carolina Club for Growth. According to its findings, 40 percent of those surveyed statewide said that they are not aware of the abandonment of the VC Summer expansion project in Fairfield County last year.
The project jointly owned by Cayce utility SC Electric & Gas and state-owned Santee Cooper ended in July 2017 when both companies realized the project was financially unattainable. That left electric customers on the hook for debt from the failed expansion. Legislators temporarily reduced the amount SCE&G could charge customers this summer, although the permanent decision will be made by the state Public Service Commission later this year.
The Club for Growth favors selling Santee Cooper to help pay off the project’s debt.
“Santee Cooper customers are the sole source for repaying more than $4 billion in debt and $4 billion more in interest from the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project,” Club for Growth board member Dennis Burt remarked. “That means the average Santee Cooper customer will pay at least $6,200 for the failed project over the next several decades, if things remain the same. The Santee Cooper and co-op customers who are on the hook for this debt have a right to know how the potential paths forward will impact them.”
Besides Santee Cooper and SCANA electric customers, residents whose power is provided by an electric cooperative were also surveyed. Those co-ops often rely on Santee Cooper for their power. Customers from other parts of the state who do not directly pay for the project were also surveyed for the poll.