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Lawmakers say customers deserve answers after nuclear plant halt

NUKE PROJECT SHUTDOWN.jpg

Currently, there are more questions than answers after utility officials shut down construction on a $14 billion nuclear project in Fairfield County.

Governor Henry McMaster and state lawmakers are vowing to find ways to protect the thousands of workers who are now out of a job and the average power customer who paid for nine rate hikes on the project that no longer exists.

On Monday construction at a Fairfield nuclear plant was halted leaving more than 5,000 workers without a job. According to Gov. McMaster, bankruptcy was a leading factor.

"A bankruptcy from a company that big is devastating. And Toshiba is almost bankrupt" said McMaster.

Meanwhile, dozens of those that are now unemployed gathered at the Statehouse crying out for answers.

"There's 6,000 people who've lost their jobs. What did they do wrong? Is there equity available and reasonable? I'm paying 18 percent more for my power. I didn't make any mistakes except where I located my house and my business. Where does that accountability come in?" said Rep. Kirkman Finlay.

Republicans and Democrats say they are forming an energy caucus to force change from a broken decision process.

Representative James Smith says he thinks the energy caucus is important and needs greater knowledge.

"What we need, which is why I think this energy caucus is very important, is expertise within the House and Senate members so we'll be able to address these issues with greater knowledge" said Smith.

McMaster is also pushing for formal hearings.

"What I've recommended is the legislatures have hearings and bring forth witnesses and let everyone ask the questions they want and get answers to what exactly happened"

Lawmakers say this could be the beginning of a long process of ratepayers barring energy providers from collecting funds.

McMaster says construction workers who lost their jobs due to the project shutdown could be hired at the Mox Facility at the Savannah River Site.

SCE&G officials say workers are still on site working to stabilize and make the area safe.

The Senate released a statement on Wednesday that a special meeting was called with the Public Utilities Review Committee at 10:30 a.m Aug. 23 in the 105 room of the Gressette Building.

The meeting was called to explore the circumstances that led to the project abandonment.

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