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Suit: Utility unlawfully hiked rates to fund failed reactors

Members of Santee Cooper's board discuss the rate increase at an early August meeting

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Two South Carolina power customers are suing the board of state-owned utility Santee Cooper, accusing it of unconstitutionally raising rates to pay for a failed nuclear power plant project.

The lawsuit obtained Saturday by The Associated Press was filed Aug. 23 in Berkeley County, where Santee Cooper is located.

The utility and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. decided last month to bail on the expansion of V.C. Summer Nuclear Station after jointly spending nearly $10 billion.

The abrupt end left thousands jobless and brought a backlash from lawmakers and customers, who have spent about $2 billion on the project through rate hikes. Santee Cooper's customers paid more than half a billion of that.

The lawsuit is seeking class-action status. Santee Cooper didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

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