There are four reasons SCE&G’s residential electric rates are much higher than those in nine other Southern states.
First, unlike Santee Cooper, which is committed to “providing low-cost, reliable energy,” SCE&G’s parent company, SCANA Corp., boasts on its website that it is committed to “Leveraging core competencies to maximize … profits.” Wow. Who knew SCE&G was awarded an electric monopoly to maximize profits instead of to generate affordable and reliable electricity?
Second, like many electric utilities, SCE&G has too many employees. Proof is found in the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Power Generation and Supply” productivity index. While private nonfarm business productivity has increased 10 percent since the beginning of the Great Recession, meaning that today 91 employees can do the work that 100 employees were doing in 2007, productivity in power generation and supply has decreased 10 percent from 2007 to 2012 (the most current period available) because of the industry’s refusal to make the difficult cuts that countless corporations have made to survive. It’s noteworthy that SCE&G added an estimated 140 employees to its payroll during the Great Recession as corporations and state governments cut 8.7 million jobs.
Third, SCE&G employees — or at least executives — are overpaid. In 2013, SCANA’s top four executives’ pay ($5.2 million, $2.1 million, $2.0 million and $1.7 million) was four to six times more than Santee Cooper’s top four executives’ pay ($788,000, $445,000, $434.000 and $418,000), although generating capacity was almost identical. And can SCANA’s CEO be worth almost as much as the CEOs of Southern Company and Duke Power, when both have generating capacity nine to 10 times that of SCE&G?
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Fourth, our legislators protect a company that quickly is becoming obsolete because of advances in alternative energy. For example, the projected construction costs for SCE&G’s two nuclear reactors is $5 million per megawatt plus tens of millions of dollars more annually for fuel, maintenance, etc., while Duke Power’s recently announced 278-megawatt solar power projects will cost $1.8 million per megawatt to construct and about $5 million annually to operate. Further darkening SCE&G’s future is the Edison Electric Institute’s projection that rooftop solar power could be cheaper than the grid in as much as a third of America, including South Carolina, by 2017, about two years before the first of SCE&G’s two obsolete nuclear reactors goes on line.