Forty-seven S.C. House members voted Monday to freeze future spending by the S.C. board that approved nine rate hikes to bankroll the failed $9 billion V.C. Summer nuclear project.
The action, as House members started voting on the state budget that takes effect July 1, largely was symbolic.
The seven-member Public Service Commission operates with a combination dollars from the federal government and other sources. not get state-appropriated money.
That left the House's 47-38 vote Monday largely as a protest, lawmakers said, with some saying it will be reconsidered as state representatives debate the state's $8.2 billion general fund budget this week.
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"It was my way of saying, 'We've still got problems,' " said state Rep. Gary Clary, R-Pickens, who voted to freeze spending.
Legislators have targeted the Public Service Commission, charged with regulating utilities. Last month, House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, accused the commission of a "significant lapse of oversight" in approving nine rate hikes for some 700,000 SCE&G customers to pay for the failed nuclear project in Fairfield County.
State Rep. Micah Caskey, R-Lexington, said it is highly unlikely the House ultimately will freeze the PSC's spending. Caskey and several other lawyer-legislators did not vote on the freeze Monday, calling it a potential conflict of interest.
"People (lawmakers) wanted to express their frustration with the PSC and what it's done over the last couple of years," he said. "It will certainly get resolved."
Last month, the House voted 108-1 to fire the entire Public Service Commission over the next two years.
State Rep. Jonathon Hill, R-Anderson, was the lone House member to vote against that proposal. He called it "political scapegoating," meant to distract from the Legislature's approval of the Base Load Review Act in 2007. That law enabled SCE&G to charge its customers for the nuclear project even after the utility abandoned the project in July.
The PSC must rule on Virginia-based Dominion Energy's proposed buyout of SCANA, SCE&G's Cayce-based parent company.
That sale is now in doubt after the House voted in February to block SCANA from continuing to charge its customers for the nuclear project.
Maayan Schechter: 803-771-8657, @MaayanSchechter