Home / Business / The judge clears the way for reducing SC utility bills by $ 22 a month

The judge clears the way for reducing SC utility bills by $ 22 a month

Electricity bills will start falling this month for some 727,000 high-power consumers after a federal judge approved a temporary cut in interest rates on Tuesday, earning a huge victory for lawmakers and installment payers.

U.S. The district court judge, Michelle Childs, denied SCE & G's motion for an injunction to block a new state law and force the supplier to lower its customer's rates.

Childs-run SCE & G was unlikely to be able to block the new law and was not entitled to any money it had raised since the construction of two new nuclear reactors in the state of Fairfield in July 2017.

Childs & # 39; s mission came after a two-day hearing last week in SCE & G's lawsuit to block legislation passed at the end of June that would provide relief to taxpayers who remained at the failed nuclear weapons expansion project.

In a Statement by SCE & G

"We will review the injunction and quickly decide whether to appeal the decision," Cayce-SCANA said in a statement addressed to investors. "In the meantime, the company will seek to offset the operational impact of the temporary rate cut by continuing to cut costs and delay spending without sacrificing security and reliability."

S.C.. House Speaker Jay Lucas said the court's decision "demonstrates the impartiality of the judiciary in prioritizing the interests of honest and hardworking South Carolinians over SCANA's corporate greed."

Senate Chairman Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, also applauded children

"SCANA has been misleading the state regulators for years, while executives fatten their purses at our expense," Leatherman said in a statement. "I am confident that we can now continue from this point on, making the SCANA executives fully accountable and providing relief to those customers who have not done anything wrong and are not benefiting from this debacle."

Childs & # 39; decision was alleged The stock market closed on Monday. In after hours trading, however, the share price of SCANA crashed after the verdict and lost 4.9 percent of its value.

Dominion Energy, a Virginia-based company that has an agreement to purchase the competitive utility, said it remains confident Buyout offer is the best opportunity for SCE & G customers to get the most value and most certainly to achieve. "

Dominan's planned buy-out of SCANA includes a $ 1

,000 refund for each household serviced by SCE & G and saves $ 10 per month in electricity installments

" We will continue to work in this direction, "said Dominion spokesman Chet Wade: "We believe that what we put on the table is the best option for them (SCE & G customers). We will continue on our own path. "

The temporary rate cuts begin with the settlement cycle starting on Tuesday. The rate cuts are calculated on the basis of each customer's electricity consumption until April and will last until December when the PSC decides on SCE & G's permanent tariffs [19659002] SCE & G retail customers would experience a reduction of more than $ 22 a month in their utility bill, on average.

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"At last, the Ratepayers will begin to gain some recognition for this get what they were done by the management of SCANA and will get some relief until the PSC … makes a final decision on future installments and merger, "said Senator Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington The whole process is blocked every step of the way, and this is a justification for the taxpayers and the legislators and those who have seized them

During the legal proceedings last week, SCE & G solicitors appealed to financial experts attesting to the temporary rate cut. This would make it difficult for SCANA to raise and maintain healthy cash flow.

Lawyers representing SC legislators called their own financial expert, who could afford SCE & G, according to an analysis by Bates White of 22 March

SCE & G argued that it was legitimate for its clients For the failed VC to burden summer expansion project under a 2007 law, even after efforts to build two new nuclear reactors were abandoned in Fairfield County a year ago.

SCE & G also alleged that SC legislators had unconstitutionally penalized the provider to exceed a retroactive quota cut. This interest rate reduction constitutes an illegal confiscation of private property and denies the benefits of the procedure prescribed by law.

SCE & G installment payers have already paid more than $ 2 billion for the cost of the two unfinished reactors. Customers have paid an average of US $ 27 per month to finance the half-finished reactors, which were originally intended to cost US $ 9 billion.

PSC lawyers and state legislators argued that any predictions of financial damage to SCE & G were speculative and insincere. They noted that after the phasing out of the nuclear project, SCANA distributed $ 82 million to its shareholders and provided another $ 110 million compensation to executives to support the upcoming Dominion buyout.

In their judgment, Childs supported legislators. With the PSC still having to cut interest rates, Childs said SCE & G could not show that the new laws were being damaged. Nor has it entitled SCE & G to the interest rate hikes it has received to end the failed V.C.

Summer project. Childs noted that the 2007 Baseload Review Act allows utility companies to cover their costs for building a nuclear power plant with higher rates, but only for as long as the plant is being built or built, in accordance with approved construction schedules and estimates.

"(I) t It is not clear if there is any claim to build or build a nuclear power plant," Childs wrote, adding that it is up to the utilities to prove to the PSK that its decision, giving up the nuclear project is prudent. "SCE & G can not claim … until the PSC makes that claim."

In addition, no section of the Base Load Review Act restricts the legislature's power to regulate utility fees, Childs judged.

It also concluded that SCE & G was unable to prove that the legislation was punitive.

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