The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said SCE&G was working on programs to help save energy, but those efforts ended when the utility had to deal with the higher-than-expected construction costs at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.
“They took a fork in the road,” Alliance Energy Efficiency Program Director Forest Bradley-Wright said. “The skyrocketing costs of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant really came at the expense of spending that money for better things like energy efficiency and so there was a decline in annual funding for energy efficiency.”
SACE released its 2018 Annual Report, “Energy Efficiency in the Southeast,” on Thursday.
“During that time, the funding for efficiency programs was being drawn down. The programs were eliminated,” Bradley-Wright said. “A decision that they took to pursue the nuclear plant, and really pushing down investment in energy efficiency.”
He said SCE&G undertook an energy efficiency potential study which aimed for about 4.8 percent, but changed direction in response to rising construction costs.
“A series of rate hikes, one after another, these are the kinds of thing that make regulators and legislators and utilities skittish about spending money, certainly for spending it on energy efficiency that maybe they don’t want to spend it on in the first place,” Bradley-Wright said.
SCE&G and its construction partner Santee Cooper decided to discontinue construction at the V.C. Summer site in July 2017 after encountering billions of dollars in cost overruns.
“But there is a different political landscape now,” Bradley-Wright said. “There’s a change in public expectations around their government officials to have some independence from the utility and not just go along — really show they are for customers.”
SCE&G responded: “SCE&G respects the work of clean energy advocacy groups, many of which tend to participate in stakeholder meetings which have proven to be very beneficial. We’re in the process of completing a comprehensive potential study that is endorsed by some of the leading energy efficiency advocates in South Carolina. We believe that the study will identify opportunities in our service territory that can be developed into cost effective programs that will benefit our customers even more.”