Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Protesters took to the state house calling out South Carolina Electric and Gas’ (SCE&G) constant rate hikes for the construction of the two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County.
The protest follows news of financial issues with the project's contractor Westinghouse and its parent company Toshiba losing $6.3 billion dollars.
South Carolinians Against Monetary Abuse (SCAMA) acted out what they say is happening with legislators signing off on rate increases to please SCE&G.
The protesters representing an SCE&G employee and a legislator were dressed as gangsters. They held a big check representative of what the group says rate payers are having to pay a never ending bill.
The protesters fear say the citizens might have to pay even more and the $14 billion price tag could go up.
“It's too much the average citizen shouldn't have to worry about this kind of stuff,” SCAMA’s Leslie Minerd said. “Vulnerable citizens they shouldn't have to worry about this kind of stuff, the amount of money they're spending to build these nukes, they could go around to insulate everybody's homes.”
Westinghouse officials have committed to completing the two new nuclear reactors but with more delays.
According to Westinghouse, the two reactors are now set to be up and running by December 2020.
SCE&G has not announced any new rate hike proposals for the delay.
“The Public Service Commission of South Carolina has approved rate adjustments under the Base Load Review Act (BLRA) each year since 2009," SCANA’s Rhonda O’Banion explained in an email. "The BLRA effectively reduces the cost of building nuclear power plants in South Carolina by allowing the state’s regulated utilities to adjust rates annually during construction of such plants to recover related financing costs.”
O'Banion said they are continuing to evaluate and are trying to mitigate project risk for rate payers. The ompany also said they have plans in place in case Westinghouse leaves the project.
Last year, the company entered an agreement regulating future rate hikes.
“If they don’t, we have to pay for the whole thing, it’s still a blank check, legally we have to pay for it, no matter if they finish it or not,” Minerd said passionately. “And we elected these people and they are not accountable to us, they are accountable to Mr. SCE&G and SCANA.”
Santee Cooper is partnering with SCE&G to build the two new reactors.