An inside look at South Carolina's energy decision-making and the critical role the
Public Service Commission and Legislature play in keeping monopoly utilities in check.
BEFORE VC SUMMER
BUSINESS AS USUAL
CUSTOMER-FOCUSED RATE DECISIONS
SCRUTINY OF UTILITY PROPOSALS
ROBUST PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
MEANINGFUL COMMISSION ENGAGEMENT
EFFECTIVELY IMPLEMENTING LAWS
Comments: The PSC neglected to use its regulatory authority, failing to serve as a significant check on utilities. It also failed to hold public discussions unless statutorily mandated, which happened rarely. For example, it held no public hearings on resource planning in 2016.¹
Even before V.C. Summer, utilities recovered millions of dollars under the Base Load Review Act. SCANA executives defrauded customers and regulators in pursuit of the failed V.C. Summer nuclear plant. SCANA sought to recover its losses from ratepayers after the plant was canceled. Duke Energy also sought to increase rates in 2016. ⁶
GOOD, BUT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
DOES NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE PSC?
Proposals for major natural gas (methane gas) infrastructure - Utilities are expected to propose multiple gas mega-projects. These risky investments could leave ratepayers on the hook for incomplete, obsolete, or expensive projects for decades. Also, fuel costs for these natural gas plants are passed through directly to customers, placing the risk of volatile gas prices onto SC families. SC needs to focus on a robust conversation about our energy future.
New oversight of Santee Cooper - The Santee Cooper reform package of 2021
provides for PSC authority over Santee Cooper’s long-term energy generation plans, including the review and permitting of new generation facilities. It also creates a competitive procurement program for renewable energy.
Long-term generation plans for Duke and Dominion, as well as review of other
proposals like rate increases and community solar programs that impact bills and access to clean energy will continue.