SCE&G and Santee Cooper’s decision to to halt the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion July 31 leaves close to 5,000 contractors looking for new work, and SCE&G customers wondering how the decision will affect their power bills.
The choice was made after nine years of work on the $14 billion project in Fairfield County. It has been subject to cost overruns, planning issues and the bankruptcy of its lead contractor Westinghouse.
SCE&G customers have so far paid $1.4 billion through higher utility bills because of nine different rate increases. The costs to customers amount to an average of around 18 percent on their monthly bill. What remains to be seen is the decision’s impact on the Midlands economy. While the project is in Fairfield County, the job was so massive workers were living and spending throughout the region, including Irmo.
Another issue behind the decision is the uncertainty surrounding the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The completed plant would have been worth $1 billion a year in carbon regulation compliance costs under that plan. But it is currently before the courts and not supported by the Trump administration. The project was also likely to miss $2 billion in tax credits because of construction delays.
SCE&G has said it is still uncertain if there will be future rate increases due to the project, and they have no plans to reduce rates.
A number of state legislators have come forward and it is likely significant changes to how utilities are allowed to finance construction are pending when the legislature reconvenes in January.