[image-1] South Carolina Electric & Gas filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday asking to have a temporary power rate cut blocked. Agreed upon last week, the cut is part of the legislature’s efforts to lower the amount customers are paying for two failed nuclear reactors in Fairfield County.

The lawsuit (via Live5News.com) seeks to stop a 15 percent cut to SCE&G customers’ bills from going into effect. The average SCE&G customer pays 18 percent of their monthly bill, or about $27 a month, for the V.C. Summer nuclear project that was abandoned last summer.

On Wednesday, the proposal overwhelmingly passed the House (109-4) and Senate (37-2) and a conference committee hammered out the differences Thursday. As he promised to do for any bill that doesn’t fully eliminate the VC Summer payments, Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed the bill only to have his stamp overruled by both chambers nearly unanimously.

The 15 percent rate cut will come in August unless the courts stop it.

The cut will retroactively cover the extra charges starting from April 1, but will only last until Dec. 21, when the Public Service Commission is expected to hand down a decision on how much SCE&G can charge customers for the reactors, which never produced any electricity.

According to The Post & Courier, SCE&G’s parent company SCANA paid $529.2 million in dividends to shareholders between 2009 and 2017 with money collected from rate increases meant for the reactors.

Meanwhile, Dominion Energy representatives have expressed disappointment in the legislature’s decision. The Virginia-based energy company promised ratepayers a $1,000 a refund check and a $10 monthly rate cut, as long as they can still charge customers for part of the abandoned project via the 2007 Base Load Review Act, the law that allowed SCE&G to charge customers up front for the project in the first place.

The law passed by the legislature last week prevents the Public Service Commission from accepting any new applications from utilities asking for revised rates under the Base Load Review Act.

“A permanent solution — with refunds and rate cuts — now will be delayed as the legal system sorts out these matters,” according to Dominion spokesperson Kristen Beckham. “We certainly hope this will occur as soon as possible for the sake of SCE&G customers.”

SCE&G customers have so far paid about $2 billion for the project. Customers of Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility that owns 45 percent of the project, have shelled out about $530 million, according to The State.

“Bowing to extreme political pressure, the South Carolina General Assembly now wishes that it had not enacted the (Base Load Review Act) and, through two new laws seeks to punish SCE&G by retroactively eliminating all rate increases since 2010,” the lawsuit argues.

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