February 28, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

You could be paying twice for V.C. Summer

The state has some huge electricity bills


In the wake of Santee Cooper and SCE&G abandoning construction of two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer site in Jenkinsville, there’s been a lot of media discussion about who’s to blame and who will pay.

The fear for many is that the electricity customers of the two providers will keep paying now for a project that may never be completed. And there’s a building sentiment that state government is to blame, at least for having failed to exercise adequate oversight of the partners’ activities, since Santee Cooper is owned by the state and SCE&G is regulated by it.

Less noticed has been the situation of what appears to be SCE&G’s biggest customer and ratepayer: the state of South Carolina.

In fiscal year 2016, the state paid SCE&G $31,610,889. That money went to keep the lights on and the air conditioning running at its various agencies and appendages, such as the Forestry Commission, the Mental Health Department, the Department of Public Safety, and so on, according to records maintained by the state’s Comptroller General.

In 2015, the bill was $33,116,417, its twelfth-highest vendor payment.

In 2014, it was $32,370,703.

From 2012, which is as far back as the Comptroller General’s online records go, until 2017, South Carolina has paid SCE&G $187,651,381.

If one takes a conservative estimate of the amount of ratepayers’ bills that went to construct the partly-built reactors, South Carolina, just as a ratepayer, has sunk $33.8 million into the project.

This means that if you were already an SCE&G ratepayer, helping to subsidize the reactors whether you wished to or not, even as its parent company’s shareholders profited from your failed investment, and you pay the state in any combination of fees and taxes, well, SCANA’s executives and shareholders could have at least sent a thank-you note.

In year 2016-17, the state paid Santee Cooper $2,464,964, with some part of that going for utility bills, and some part of that going toward the V.C. Summer construction costs.

In the same period, the state paid Duke Energy and its affiliates (Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas) $16,640,674, with a good chunk of it going to utility bills — but of course, Duke wasn’t also billing for the costs of building two nuclear reactors that now may never come online.

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