As Avery Wilkes reported last week, “With 2 days left, SC Legislature could fail to pass bills fixing VC Summer fiasco,” the Legislature considered no fewer than six bills this year to reform how utility companies conduct business, but none has passed. Gamecock and Tiger fans would be ashamed of such a record.
AARP South Carolina believes it’s absolutely vital that the Legislature pass H.4375 and H.4379 when it returns to work Wednesday in an extended session. And it’s vital that lawmakers pass these bills without removing the crucial definition of “prudent.”
H.4375 repeals the BLRA, and H.4379 establishes a much-needed, independent utility consumer advocate.
Customers have subsidized SCE&G’s nuclear construction failure to the tune of $2.5 billion in interest costs alone. If this continues, ratepayers will have to shell out a total of $10.2 billion over the next half century.
This is ridiculous but entirely legal under state law. If the Base Load Review Act is not repealed, our state will always be at risk for more utility scams like this one.
AARP South Carolina has heard from nearly 2,000 members about the financial strain caused by these imprudent rate hikes. Older residents on fixed and low incomes are utterly sick and tired of having to choose between buying food and medicine or paying their electric bills. While temperatures rise as we head into summer, older folks are especially vulnerable if they cannot properly cool their homes.
SCE&G customers should not be forced to keep funding excess profits and interest charges.
The Base Load Review Act allows SCE&G to send us some of the highest electricity bills in the Southeast for abandoned, unfinished nuclear reactors that will never produce power. SCE&G was able to raise our rates nine times in less than 10 years, including a full year and a half after knowing the project was doomed.
Meanwhile, shareholders of SCE&G’s parent company, SCANA, have directly received $529 million of the $2 billion paid by SCE&G customers for V.C. Summer.
We stand for consumer protections for utility customers. It’s time for lawmakers to protect ratepayers and approve H.4375 and H.4379.
Contact your legislators through action.aarp.org/BLRARepealNow.
Director, AARP South Carolina
The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State.