As mentioned earlier this week, the biggest movement in the House was the repeal of the Base Load Review Act prospectively and eliminating all charges on the electric bills of SCE&G customers due to the law. This included 9 rate increases to the tune of 19.52% that the House voted to roll back. The bill we passed this week to repeal the BLRA also has other key components. It instructs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to keep power rates as low as possible while the SCANA merger is evaluated. The South Carolina Constitution directs the legislature to set utility rates, and the legislature delegates that authority to the PSC. The bill also ensures that no future utility project can recover costs under the law abused by SCE&G.
This bill will now move to the Senate. The day the House voted on this measure, SCANA stock dropped ten cents by closing bell. I believe the people have been misled in many ways regarding SCE&G’s financial strength and I believe the ratepayer has been taken advantage of over the last decade. When you dive into the numbers you’ll see that the ratepayers forked over $1.8 billion for the VC Summer Plant; stockholders received $2.5 billion in cash dividends during this same time period and the company has seen revenues of $400-500 million annually. Ratepayers have been shelling out $37 million per month, and last year for a total of $440 million… It’s time to make the ratepayers whole.
Whether the Dominion deal goes through or not, is not up to the General Assembly, that is a private transaction and we do not have any say there. Where we will have input going forward is on Santee Cooper. I feel this is even more complicated than what we are dealing with re SCE&G/SCANA. These are not black and white, all or nothing issues, I know some of y’all would like them to be but they just aren’t. I will take the time necessary to view these issues from every angle, to ensure that we keep the ratepayer, first and foremost, protected. In the end, the General Assembly has an ethical and moral obligation to do so.
In other news, House budget writers began meeting this week to learn about the financial needs of our state. The South Carolina Constitution requires the state’s annual operating budget to originate in the House of Representatives. During this period, state agencies submit budget requests to lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee will then craft a budget for an up or down vote. If you have a budget issue you want to bring to my attention, please do so! I have sat in on a few of these subcommittee hearings to learn more about the budget process.
And if you’re keeping score at home, I have been added to the 3M committee, (Military, Medical and Municipal Affairs); my subcommittee will be Military Affairs.
As always, please feel free to reach out any time to ask any questions about anything we are addressing in the House.