Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A regulatory effort is now underway that could stop SCE&G rate hikes and reimburse the money they charged customers to build the now failed VC Summer nuclear project.

"We weren't listened to," said Tom Clements with the environmentalist group Friends of the Earth. "For nine years, we warned about the cost overruns, schedule delays and construction problems but we were discounted all the way up until this year. I think it would've been prudent if the regulators, the ORS, the PSC had paid attention to what we were saying and paid more attention to what was going on at the project, and not just listen to SCE&G. So I'm glad that it's all coming out now."

The Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) is now petitioning the Public Service Commission (PSC) to stop SCE&G's rate hikes.

If the General Assembly decides the Base Load Review Act is unconstitutional, they also want SCE&G to credit or refund all of the revised rate collections.

Elam filed a motion to appoint PSC legal staff member David Butler as a hearing officer to handle the SCE&G and ORS case.

"We instruct the hearing officer to schedule the briefing and oral arguments as expeditiously as possible," Elam said.

"We were pleased with the ruling," said Frank Knapp with the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

Knapp believes the money is in the wrong hands.

"That money going to SCE&G ought to be going to our local economy," Knapp said. "This is a way it could be stopped and clawed back from the utility company."

We reached out to SCE&G for comment but did not receive a response.