A premature deal
The Dominion offer goes a long way to provide relief to customers who have already paid $1.7 billion toward the reactors and who continue to pay 18 percent of their monthly bills for the abandoned project.
But ratepayers would individually still owe about $5,000 over 20 years. All for nuclear reactors that will never generate power.
Lawmakers and state regulators have the power to do much more.
For one thing, legislators have already proposed clawing back all of the rate hikes related to the reactors .…
The PSC should not have a hard task in recouping costs for customers under the “imprudency” provision.
So the Dominion deal, while impressive, is premature.
Until lawmakers and regulators have had enough time to fully explore the options available to protect South Carolina ratepayers and recoup the money they have already spent on the nuclear failure, any offer involves speculation.
And with billions of dollars at stake, relying on speculation is unacceptable.
A good deal for S.C.
The sale would include benefits for SCE&G customers related to the failure of the nuclear project:
• A $1.3 billion cash payment within 90 days upon completion of the merger to all customers, worth $1,000 for the average residential electric customer. Payments would vary based on the amount of electricity used in the 12 months prior to the merger closing.
• An estimated additional 5 percent rate reduction from current levels, equal to more than $7 a month for a typical SCE&G residential customer, resulting from a $575 million refund of amounts previously collected from customers and savings of lower federal corporate taxes under recently enacted federal tax reform.
• A more than $1.7 billion write-off of existing nuclear plant capital and regulatory assets, which would never be collected from customers. This allows for the elimination of all related customer costs over 20 years instead of over the previously proposed 50-60 years.
• Completion of the $180 million purchase of natural-gas fired power station (Columbia Energy Center) at no cost to customers.
SCE&G shareholders also benefit. As the company’s stock and the dividend it pays have been staples for thousands of South Carolinians over decades, shareholders would receive 0.6690 shares of Dominion Energy common stock for each SCANA share.…
Our hope is the search for “fixes” does not result in political gamesmanship by politicians that will endanger the future of the utility — which at this point appears to be best assured by the merger with Dominion.
Dont’ lock ’em up
The percentage of people imprisoned has been falling in South Carolina and the nation over the past few years, but it is still too high. There were almost 21,000 South Carolinians in prison in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
It is good to see Spartanburg County lawmakers leading the charge to fix these problems. State Reps. Josiah Magnuson and Steven Long are vocal in their advocacy for a bill that would allow offenders to have low-level, non-violent drug crimes expunged from their records after three years.…
Putting people in prison is not only expensive for taxpayers, it carries high social costs. It destroys families and the livelihoods of those locked up. The harm done to families cascades down into future generations.
Prison should not be the default method of punishment for most crimes. Prison should be reserved for violent offenders who should be isolated from the rest of the population. We need to expand the use of fines, restitution, house arrest, supervised probation and community service for nonviolent offenders. We can punish people in ways that preserve their families and their ability to rejoin the workforce after their punishment.
There have been many voices pushing, sometimes successfully, for this kind of reform within the General Assembly. But when business interests add their weight behind the call, it may tip the scales in favor of meaningful change.