Will SC power customers get their money back after SCANA sale?
Cash refunds are coming.
Starting Thursday, roughly $60 million in checks will be mailed to customers of Dominion Energy South Carolina who paid more than $2 billion for a nuclear power plant that was never finished.
The checks — to be sent between Aug. 1-10 — are the first round of up to $146 million in cash payouts stemming from a settlement over the utility’s failed V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion project.
Most of the utility’s 1.1 million current and former electric customers who could be tracked down to receive their payout will get less than $100, a fraction of what they were charged for the nuclear project.
But some 41,000 customers — a mix of businesses, government agencies and residential customers — will get at least $100 back, according to Edward Westbrook, a Mount Pleasant attorney who worked on the lawsuit. One unnamed customer will get a $1 million refund.
Customers who opted to receive a rate credit instead of a check will see the difference on a future power bill.
The first refunds will be mailed two years after the July 31, 2017, abandonment of the $9 billion V.C. Summer project in Fairfield County.
Customers of that project’s majority owner, SCE&G, paid more than $2 billion in higher power bills for the new reactors, prompting a series of lawsuits after the massive construction venture was canceled.
(SCE&G has since been renamed Dominion Energy South Carolina after it was purchased by Virginia-based Dominion Energy).
The utility’s customers eventually will get another round of refund checks after former SCE&G real estate — surrendered to ratepayer attorneys as part of the settlement — is sold.
The checks will be sent by a court-appointed claims administrator, not Dominion Energy South Carolina. Current or former ratepayers with questions can call 877-432-3808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ratepayers don’t need to do anything to receive the checks.
Refunds will be based on how much each customer paid toward the project. That means customers who paid higher power bills — such as manufacturers — will receive more than residential customers.
Still, those checks won’t come close to paying back what customers were charged for V.C. Summer.
Westbrook stressed that the cash refunds are a small part of the legal settlement, which included a stipulation that Dominion Energy South Carolina provide $2 billion in future rate relief.
That rate relief took the form of a $22-a-month rate cut that was approved by state utility regulators last December. Westbrook and his colleagues have said their lawsuit against SCE&G helped build the case for that rate cut, which has been noticeable on the utility’s power bills since February.
“This is the icing on the cake,” Westbrook said.
Even with that cut, Dominion Energy South Carolina’s 730,000 electric customers still are paying about $5 a month on their power bills toward nuclear reactors that were never finished.
The project will cost those customers another $2.3 billion — or $1,600 for the typical household — over the next 20 years.