SCE&G seeks to recoup up to $200MM for nuclear expansion project

By Dorothy Davis

South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G) plans to return to state regulators to request up to $200 million from customers in the form of gradual rate increases for expenses related to its nuclear expansion project in Fairfield County.

SCE&G and Santee Cooper are collaborating to build two 1,117-megawatt nuclear electric-generating units at the site of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, South Carolina. The first unit is expected to come online in 2016.

In August, the State Supreme Court ruled SCE&G could not include $438 million designated as unspecified expenses within a rate-hike request that would have covered project overruns. The request was challenged by the South Carolina Energy Users Committee, which contested that customers should not be billed upfront for project expenditures that have not actually been incurred. 

The Public Service Commission of South Carolina has already approved an increase of $47.3 million, which will be effective for bills rendered on and after October 30. SCE&G filed for the increase in May under provisions of South Carolina’s Base Load Review Act (BLRA), a law that sets standard guidelines for the process regulated electric utilities must follow when building nuclear power plants.

The BLRA allows for annual adjustments to rates during construction of the units as a means of recovering financing costs. If the current SCE&G request for funding is approved, consumers would not immediately see an increase on their monthly bills. The utility plans to add the expense to the overall cost of the project, gradually raising rates over the next 10 years until the second of two new reactors is completed for the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in 2019.

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