Columbia, SC (WLTX) - SCE&G may be forced to put an end to the multi-billion dollar nuclear reactor projects meant to power thousands of homes throughout the Midlands.
The contract that spells out the engineering and construction of the projects has been kept secret, leaving thousands of customers with no idea as to what exactly they're paying for.
"If you're going to ask for the customers to pay for things, the customers ought to be able to see what they are paying for," Dukes Scott said.
Scott is the Executive Director of the Office of Regulatory Staff. For the last eight years SCE&G hasn't let customers see where their money is going. Scott said that the Engineering, Procurement and Construction or EPC Contract is the backbone of the multi-billion dollar nuclear reactor projects at VC Summer and it has been kept confidential, exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, since its inception. SCE&G has released amendments, but never the original and full contract.
"You've got to be wondering why and I'm not blaming anybody. This is the first time we've raised this issue," Scott said. "It is not that we think there is something in there that's going to be earth-shattering to the public or lead to some big finding. It's simply that having this thing in the cloak of darkness and secrecy causes suspicion," Scott said.
News 19 reached out to SCE&G for comment.
"We informed the Public Service Commission of South Carolina on May 1 that our company does not object to the request made by the Office of Regulatory Staff to the PSC to revoke confidential treatment of the EPC contract," Eric Boomhower, the Director of Public Affairs for SCE&G wrote.
According to the motion, the overall cost of the two reactors is now $7.7 billion. The first unit was supposed to be finished in April of last year. Now completion is set for August 2019 and the other is set for August 2020. 18 percent of the average customers bill goes to funding the project. And SCE&G has asked the commission to modify the budget and completion dates at least 5 times.
"We have not had a price tag nor schedule that has been correct so far since 2009," Scott said.
To make matters worse, Westinghouse, a main partner in the projects filed for bankruptcy in March. It's parent company Toshiba said the company lost over $6 billion because of nuclear projects in South Carolina and Georgia. SCE&G, Westinghouse and other partners have agreed to an evaluation period that will expire at the end of June. They hope to decide where to go from here. They have four options: continue, delay, abandon one or ditch both units, wasting billions.
"It's ultimately the customers money. If they're going to pay for it, they need to see it," said Scott.
SCE&G can recover some money from Westinghouse in bankruptcy court, but it's unlikely that they would receive that money by June.
For more information on the Public Service Commission, commissioners and how to contact them click here.