When South Carolina Public Service Commissioner Comer Randall called to order the PSC today, November 1, he started a process expected to play out over much of this month. The topic is about the financing of the canceled VC Summer nuclear project near Columbia. Almost a month of hearings seems like a lot, though the regulatory and legal points under discussion fill much of the time in the hearings.
The meeting had a packed house. Among the groups and representatives, SC electric Cooperatives, US Department of Defense, SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce, Coastal Conservation League, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), SC Energy Users Committee, SC Attorney General, SC Solar Business Alliance, SCE&G, Dominion, and more.
South Carolina’s PSC has a range of issues to decide and they seem intertwined: Hearing viewpoints about the application of the 2007 Baseload Review Act, how customers could be impacted, the way that Santee Cooper customers – and even Santee Cooper as an organization – can change, and whether a sale of SCANA would be the most positive solution. (A sale to Dominion was passed by SCANA shareholders this summer but requires PSC approval.)
A note to our readers: The Baseload Review Act from 2007-08 is located online here.
Opening statements at the November 1 meeting reflected most all these issues. With opening statements at five minutes each, there was no digging deep into any one issue. These statements set the stage for future lines of thinking. They may also foreshadow shows of emotion in future hearings – some statements were step-by-step explanations of views; others used more heated language and labels.
The evidentiary phase of the hearing took about half the day. Various points of law and regulation were debated that would determine what was usable in the hearings and what would not be admitted. Experts were called by groups to bolster their viewpoints about the issues. Expert testimony is likely to be used a lot in a forum like this.
These are big issues for the State of South Carolina. Big financial stakes. Big decisions about who ought to manage the electric service for citizens. Decisions with implications for a long time.
Because of the magnitude of these issues, the process deserves extra care. During these lengthy meetings and presentations to the PSC, thorough, professional discussions benefit electric consumers.
For people interested in the schedule of hearings, the link to the live stream is on the SC PSC’s website: http://www.psc.sc.gov.