Relief is in sight for SCE&G and Santee Cooper ratepayers who have forked over well over a billion dollars for two new nuclear reactors that will never be completed. It can’t come fast enough.
On Thursday, state lawmakers announced an ambitious package of reforms related to the failed nuclear project. Proposed legislation would roll back rate increases tied to the new reactors, shake up state regulatory bodies and replace the board of directors at Santee Cooper, among other actions.
Rolling back rates should be a top priority for legislators when they reconvene in January. SCE&G customers continue to pay 18 percent of their monthly bills for the nuclear project, amounting to about $27 per month for the average household.
Customers should be outraged that SCANA, the parent company of SCE&G, still makes about $37 million per month from rate hikes to pay for a construction effort that has been abandoned since the summer. Not only should electric bills be immediately reduced, but refunds should be given for the months since SCANA announced it would not complete the new reactors.
Firing the Santee Cooper board, as the House has proposed, should herald much needed fresh thinking for the state-run agency.
It also makes sense to get rid of the sitting members of the Public Service Commission, the regulatory agency that was all but asleep at the wheel for nearly a decade as cost overruns and construction delays raised red flags that the nuclear project was falling apart.
And the state Office of Regulatory Staff, a watchdog organization, should be given the strongest possible teeth to ensure that future investments at ratepayer expense are handled more prudently.…
It would be better to spend what it takes to maintain the V.C. Summer site in good condition in case a future solution allows construction to restart, possibly under a different utility company. After all, South Carolina will eventually need new power plants, and nuclear reactors are a good option for the state.
But if that’s not possible, any tax write-off should be used to lower the cost burden on customers.
In 2016, the FBI started to track animal cruelty, including neglect, torture and sexual abuse, because of disturbing connections between abuse and killing of animals and dong the same to humans.…
Desmond’s Law enacted in 2016 creates a program that allows courts to appoint supervised law students or lawyers to serve as volunteer advocates for animals in cruelty cases. The legal experts represent the interests of animals and justice, mirroring a practice that is already standard for children who have been abused or killed.
“Advocates research police and veterinary records, interview experts and present recommendations to courts regarding intermediate and final issues in cruelty cases. They aim to ensure that courts consider and protect animal interests,” Rubin writes. Volunteers track cruelty cases in the state and attend court hearings.
The first case to use Desmond’s Law involved a defendant accused of engaging in dogfighting, Rubin notes. Lacking a record of prior convictions, he was eligible to apply for an accelerated rehabilitation program through which a defendant complying with court conditions and not committing additional offenses may have charges dismissed.
A student under Rubin’s supervision argued that the defendant should not be eligible for the accelerated rehabilitation program because the crime of which he was accused was serious and likely to recur.
A Connecticut judge allowed the defendant to use the program but was receptive to imposing conditions on the defendant’s probationary two-year program term. For example, he may not have any contact with animals and must undergo a psychological assessment.
South Carolina may not be ready to implement its own version of Desmond’s Law but such an approach should be considered. It would be a way to give legal advocates for animals standing to do more than speak loudly in the public arena — a could be a factor in putting a stop to violence against humans later.
Times & Democrat