SCE&G files lawsuit to block 15-percent rate cut Legislature passed last week

BY TOM BARTON AND AVERY G. WILKS
tbarton@thestate.com
awilks@thestate.com

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Electric & Gas Company has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block S.C. regulators from following a newly passed law to temporarily slash the utility’s power customers’ bills by 15 percent.

But the S.C. Public Service Commission on Monday voted to enact the rate cut. It will move forward with slashing SCE&G’s electric rates at a hearing on Tuesday, barring a successful legal challenge by the Cayce-based utility.

The legal proceedings unfolded Monday, days after the S.C. Legislature passed a new law that would nearly wipe out the roughly $27 per month SCE&G now charges its average customers for a failed nuclear construction project.

In its lawsuit, SCE&G seeks a judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional and an injunction blocking the S.C. PSC from officially setting the lower rate. SCE&G complains that S.C. lawmakers passed a 2007 law encouraging the V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project and appointed state regulators who approved it, and now wants to punish the utility because the project failed.

The suit does not detail SCE&G’s role in the failure, laying blame with the project’s chief contractor, Westinghouse.

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