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      Environmental group takes on SCE&G nuclear plant

      Tom Clements with Friends of the Earth / Sara Jane Harris

      On Thursday, in the South Carolina Supreme Court, the Friends of the Earth appealed a state decision allowing South Carolina Electric & Gas to add two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County.

      Tom Clements with the environmental group protested outside the court while his organization was inside demanding the Public Service Commission require SCE&G to deliver what he calls a full and reliable energy plan.

      "We think the court should send this blank check back to the Public Service Commission and they should tear it up today in the hearing," said Clements.Clements said the South Carolina Public Service Commission gave the utility a blank check when they approved a ten-year phase of rate hikes on their customers last year.Rate payers are in for a real shock as the cost of the reactors goes into the rate base, said Clements.

      Clements argued that there are cleaner and safer alternatives to nuclear energy that should have been considered.

      "We think investing ten to $20 billion dollars in lower cost options like energy efficiency and conservation should be done first, and the most expensive options like nuclear power should come last," said Clements.

      Rhonda O TMBanion with SCANNA said other forms of energy were considered.

      SCE&G conducted very thorough, very detailed research in trying to meet the growing needs of South Carolina," said O TMBanion.

      O TMBanion said weighing all of the options that were presented to SCE&G, nuclear was the best answer. She said gradually increasing customer rates now will reduce the cost of the project later by about $1 billion.

      A decision was not issued in court on Thursday.

      Officials said construction on SCE&G TMs first reactor is expected to begin in 2013.

      WACH FOX News will update this story as we gather more information.

      Plus, read the full press release from Friends of the Earth, and get another report from the Associated Press.