I’ve got a lot of news to share with you from the Statehouse…
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen significant movement on key energy issues, especially on the nuclear front.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most important updates that you need to know:
Growing GOP support for clean energy
I know you’re hearing a lot of bad news right now, but there are rays of hope. Most notably, we’re starting to see more and more conservative leadership on clean energy and charting a path forward anchored in renewables.
Over the weekend, the South Carolina Republican Party’s executive committee approved a resolution that asks the General Assembly to encourage more use of renewable energy, especially solar.
There was also this fantastic exchange last week between our Executive Director John Tynan and Rep. Nathan Ballentine during public testimony in front of the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee.[bctt tweet="There's growing GOP support for clean energy. Check it out. >>" username="cvofsc"]
Here’s a snippet of what Rep. Ballentine said:
“My concern is if we don’t [remove barriers to solar energy], we’re going to risk… upwards of 3,000 jobs because of the solar revolution.”
Like the SCGOP and Rep. Ballentine, we continue to call on legislators and political leaders of all parties to join the clean energy movement. We need to keep opening up the solar market in South Carolina so we can remove uncertainty and allow the industry to continue growing.
We’re quite excited by the opportunity to build a plan for our state’s future that includes conservative support for clean energy.
Bechtel nuclear report highlights problems
While we’re seeing some positive things happening, we’re also beginning to learn more about the major problems with the construction of two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer facility.
Last month, the long-secret Bechtel nuclear report, was made public by Gov. Henry McMaster.
Here’s what Cindi Scoppe wrote in The State newspaper last week:
“The most important thing to the public about the Bechtel report isn’t that it detailed the construction problems that Santee Cooper had been urging SCANA to correct. The most important thing to us about the report is that a company that SCANA hired concluded that SCANA was not doing its job. That certainly raises questions about whether SCANA was making prudent business decisions. And since the management critique was hidden from the world for 18 months, it might go to questions of securities fraud.”[bctt tweet="Bechtel nuclear report highlights problems. >>" username="cvofsc"]
The report was completed by the Bechtel Corp. about 18 months before the project was shut down in July. It detailed how the doomed V.C. Summer nuclear project suffered from flawed construction plans, faulty designs, inadequate management of contractors, low worker morale and high turnover.
Legislative hearings into V.C. Summer nuclear project
The Bechtel report is one of a number of developments that continue to spur on a slew of legislative hearings into the V.C. Summer nuclear project. In fact, as I write this, the ad-hoc House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee has just finished hearing from Executives and Board Members of Santee Cooper.
Today’s hearing was the latest in a month of hearings in both the House and Senate. As these committees continue to collect and analyze information, it’s becoming clear that lawmakers believe SCE&G has lied to the public, state regulators and the General Assembly.
According to Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, there will likely be consequences when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.[bctt tweet="Here's the latest on the legislative hearings into the V.C. Summer nuclear project. >>" username="cvofsc"]
Most recently, the general public and a number of interested groups spoke before the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee last week about the V.C. Summer boondoggle and the burden of the costs we are being asked to pay.
As mentioned earlier, our John Tynan was among those to testify at the hearing. John spoke on behalf on the South Carolina Conservation Coalition, urging the legislature to “seize this catastrophe” to “develop a roadmap to our new energy future.”
One day, three key developments
At the same time the House was hearing remarks from SCE&G ratepayers, there were three major developments unfolding.
First, the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) asked the Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees utilities, to cut bills for SCE&G customers. ORS argues that it’s “not just and reasonable” for ratepayers to be charged any more for two half-built nuclear reactors. SCE&G customers have already paid $1.4 billion toward the reactors over the past decade, and 18% of our current electric bills go to the fund the failed effort.
Second, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office released a legal opinion that found the 2007 Base Load Review Act to be “constitutionally suspect.” That opinion could open the door for the General Assembly to retroactively make changes in the wake of SCANA choosing to scrap the project.[bctt tweet="One day, three key developments on nuclear energy. >>" username="cvofsc"]
And third, in response to a request from state lawmakers, the State Law Enforcement Division confirmed it was opening a formal investigation into SCE&G and its parent company SCANA Corp. SLED Chief Mark Keel will look into potential fraud and deception ahead of the project’s financial collapse and the company’s dramatic decision to halt construction.
That’s it for now. Until next time…