Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Wednesday was day two of questioning for the Office of Regulatory Staff about the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant and the problems that led to the end of a multi-billion dollar reactor project there.
The meeting started with a new detail that left lawmakers stunned. When SCE&G applied to build the two reactors, the application did not include a detailed construction schedule or cost estimate for the project.
"There was a promise that SCE&G would hurry back in and submit a schedule that they were prepared to follow," said Columbia attorney Scott Elliot, who testified before the House panel.
"So we voted on a plan that in essence gave SCE&G free reign with the rate-payers." said Rep. Kirkman Finlay from Richland County. He was frustrated to hear most of what happened was allowed by the General Assembly when the "Base Load Review Act" was passed back in 2007.
That law allowed SCE&G to collect money for the project by charging ratepayers before the project was complete.
The point was made that SCE&G leaders were rewarding each other with performance bonuses on the ratepayer's back. To that Rep. Wendell Gilliard said this: "rate-payers would have something to say about that and they would say what the hell were you guys smoking"?
Dukes Scott, Director of the Office of Regulatory Staff, joked throughout the testimony that he was taking Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug. "I took my last pill before I showed up so be careful with me," he said.
The ORS is the agency most responsible for regulating utilities.
For consumers like Doris Faltcher from West Columbia, it's going to be very hard to trust utilities and elected officials again. "They have not been prudent and no one is looking out for the customers" she said.
House Speaker Jay Lucas is now asking Scott to resign. He sent News19 this statement:
"Although this is ultimately Governor McMaster’s decision, I have asked for ORS Executive Director Dukes Scott’s resignation today. Mr. Scott performed his duties to the best of his ability, but his testimony before the committee raised significant concerns over ORS’ management of the VC Summer nuclear project. New leadership in my opinion is necessary to assure South Carolina ratepayers that the Office of Regulatory Staff holds their interests in the highest regard. I believe this is the first of many steps that must occur to prevent this type of catastrophe from happening again."