The Great Palmetto Energy War Is Just Getting Warmed Up
This article was originally published by FITSNews.
Within the next few weeks, the first major battle in an ongoing energy war in South Carolina is likely to be decided …
We are referring, of course, to a highly-anticipated decision from the embattled S.C. Public Service Commission (SCPSC) related to Virginia-based Dominion Energy’s $15 billion bid to purchase Cayce, S.C.-based SCANA.
Dominion has given state regulators several variants of its proposal to choose from – including one version which would reduce long-term energy rates to a level below that envisioned by state lawmakers (whose crony capitalist meddling is what landed SCANA and government-owned utility Santee Cooper on the block in the first place).
State lawmakers socialized billions of dollars in investment risk over the last decade related to #NukeGate – the construction of two next generation, pressurized water reactors at the V.C. Summer nuclear generating station in Jenkinsville, S.C. These reactors were supposed to have been operational in 2016 and 2017, respectively, at a cost of $9.8 billion. They weren’t, though …
The money was spent, but the project wasn’t finished – and the two utilities couldn’t afford the estimated $10-16 billion price tag necessary to complete it. On July 31, 2017 Santee Cooper finally pulled the plug on the boondoggle – killing an estimated 5,600 jobs in the process.
Just eight days before it bailed on the project, though, Santee Cooper announced massive rate increases on customers tied to “costs associated with nuclear construction and other system improvements.” Also, after the project collapsed Santee Cooper gave its former leader a multimillion-dollar, taxpayer-subsidized golden parachute – even though documents released last summer revealed its executives (and SCANA’s leaders) knew years ago that the project was doomed.
Not surprisingly, there is an ongoing criminal investigation into this command economic debacle … one that we suspect will end poorly for any number of people associated with this command economic catastrophe.
In the meantime, furious negotiations have been underway pertaining to the uncertain future of these two utilities. And while there appears to be clarity on SCANA’s horizon – there can be no doubt this is a multi-front war.
And those waging it are playing for keeps …