SCE&G defends extra money for nuclear power plant

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Electric & Gas says it has done a good job managing a $14 billion project to build two new nuclear reactors.

The utility responded to a new coalition of small businesses, environmental groups and community leaders called Stop The Blank Check that wants South Carolina regulators to reject part of a rate increase to pay for nuclear power plants under construction.

SCE&G says the new plants will cost an extra $846 million, pushing the final costs to nearly $14 billion. The utility's final paperwork for approval of the plants in 2009 estimated costs at $11.4 billion.

SCE&G spokesman Eric Boomhower says whether someone builds a house or two complex nuclear plants, there will always be unexpected costs that crop up. He says the plants will save ratepayers money in the long run.

A group of small businesses, environmental groups and community leaders are joining together for the first time to ask South Carolina regulators to reject part of a rate increase to pay for nuclear power plants under construction.

The group called Stop The Blank Check said Monday it wants the Public Service Commission to refuse South Carolina Electric & Gas' request to pass on $846 million in increased costs.

The Legislature gave SCE&G permission in 2007 to raise rates to pay for the plants before they open. The new group says that law has given SCE&G a blank check.

The new nuclear power plants in Jenkinsville are set to open in 2019 and 2020 will cost an estimated $14 billion, $4 billion more than first thought. They are years behind schedule.

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