House Speaker: Change laws after nuclear plant failure


COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH/AP) - South Carolina House speaker Jay Lucas is proposing six laws in the wake of a failed nuclear reactor job in the Midlands.

The Hartsville Republican said Thursday that the proposals would prevent customers from paying for the failed project.

On July 31, South Carolina Electric & Gas and state-owned utility Santee Cooper abandoned construction at the VC Summer site in Fairfield County. Both utilities blamed the failure in large part on the bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the chief contractor on the job.

The utilities had already spent more than $9 billion on the project, with approximately $2 billion coming from power customers through a series of rate increases.

"In recent months, it has become overwhelmingly evident that increased oversight and necessary reforms must be made to several state agencies in order to prevent a fiasco of this magnitude from occurring again," Lucas said in a statement. "I am confident that the solutions offered in this legislation will require utility companies to meet strict criteria and present significant evidence before a single rate increase is approved in the future."

Lucas' proposals would cut SCE&G customer rates by 18 percent, the amount they're currently paying for the project. Customers might also get refunds for what they've already paid.

“Protecting the South Carolina ratepayer in the aftermath of the VC Summer nuclear facility fallout has been the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee’s sole focus throughout its extensive and thorough study," Lucas said. "The legislation introduced today lowers current rates and prevents consumers from paying a single penny more for the costly failed project."

The company wouldn't talk about the proposals Thursday but said previously such ideas would be disruptive.

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