Columbia, SC (WLTX) — It looks like the fight over SCE&G rate cuts isn't over yet.
SCE&G filed an emergency motion for injunction with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District on Wednesday, pending an appeal filed with the court.
In the motion, SCE&G argues the court should issue an order to stop ordered rate cuts for customers, which were to go into effect this week, until the Court of Appeals reviews its appeal of an order issued in federal court on Monday. SCE&G also asks the court to hear the case as soon as possible to resolve the issue with speed.
The move comes after a federal judge on Monday denied SCE&G's request to stop rate cuts passed by the General Assembly. That law, approved in June, requires SCE&G to cut rates by 15 percent and refund four months worth of nuclear rates by the August billing cycle.
SCE&G had argued the rate cut was unconstitutional, and deprived them of their property (the money collected from customers) without a proper way to contest the law.
But in an order issued Monday afternoon, federal judge Michelle Childs sided with state lawmakers, and ruled that the cut, retroactive to April, can start showing up on South Carolina Electric & Gas bills starting Tuesday.
The rate cut is designed to offer relief to customers who are still paying for the abandoned construction of two new reactors at the VC Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County. That project was a joint venture between SCE&G/SCANA and state owned utility Santee Cooper that began eight years ago.
A law passed in 2007, known as the Base Load Review Act, allowed for the companies to charge customers each month for the project before it was constructed. Over $2 billion had been spent on the effort.
But Westinghouse, which was the lead contractor on the construction, went bankrupt. On July 31 of 2017, SCE&G and Santee Cooper walked away from the construction, saying it couldn't be salvaged after losing Westinghouse.
Over 6,000 people lost their jobs as a result.
The companies, though, said they still needed to get back the additional money they'd spent on the project, which was in the billions, and would have to continue charging customers, even though ratepayers would essentially be paying for nothing.
That riled both customers and lawmakers, who demanded action. After months of debate during this past session, lawmakers agreed to an experimental rate cut through December of 15 percent. That could become permanent.
But SCE&G says they have no way, other than in court, to challenge those rate cuts until November.