Columbia, SC (WLTX) – House members are unsure if a refund will be given to ratepayers following the failed project at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant.
To get the ball rolling, six bills were pre-filed, all geared to stopping higher rates in the future.
"We're moving forward as quickly as possible," says Representative Peter McCoy, R-Charleston.
For the past three and half months, lawmakers have questioned executives of both SCANA and Santee Cooper on the decision to abandon construction of the two nuclear reactors. Nearly $2 billion was invested in to the failed project.
"The speaker put an emphasis on us protecting the rate payer and us doing it immediately and moving forward,” says Rep. McCoy. “If you look at the bills we're all paying right now, you and I and everybody here, we're still paying the 18 percent attached to our bill that's not going to be completed."
The bills will eliminate that 18 percent rate increase, force the utility companies to pay back the cost of the construction and add a consumer advocacy group separate of the office of regulatory staff.
One bill could also eliminate all of the current Santee Cooper board members and create new requirements for the positions.
"It would be helpful if we didn't have a wholesale turnover of board members all at one time," says Jim Brogdon, interim CEO for Santee Cooper.
Brogdon says that the bill will also hurt the credit rating of the company and could cause an increase in cost for ratepayers.
However, Rep. McCoy says the state-owned utility hurt themselves with their decisions.
"Nobody on this committee, the speaker and nobody on the previous committee wants to hurt Santee Cooper in the slightest,” says Rep. McCoy. “It's the decisions and the agreements they entered into that did not look out for the rate payers that would hurt them."
All six bills were approved by the subcommittee. They will now go to a full judiciary committee for approval before the session starts.