Citizens have a chance for a lot of listening and questions over the next few months. Good. Dialogue is positive. It lends transparency to reconciling the energy management / debt / future issues in South Carolina.
Let’s aim for constructive and respectful dialogue in what could be an emotional and political atmosphere. Why? It benefits the region in several ways. Thoughtful listening, probing questions and openness build understanding. It opens problem-solving to the wisdom of a collective group of people, the idea that large groups are collectively smarter than individual experts for problem-solving.
Another reason is that the process is being watched well outside of South Carolina. This weekend the Wall Street Journal ran a story, The $4.7 Billion Nuclear Bill That No One Wants to Pay. The report summarizes the nuclear plant issue and the various options and responses to date. That’s major press. It gets more eyeballs on the state, which can be an opportunity. How people respond and what solutions are put in place will speak to people who may consider South Carolina as a place to do business or to live. The discussion is important in what it says about all of us.
The first of the flurry of meetings starts with a Dominion meet-and-greet at the Newberry Opera House today, August 27, at 6 p.m. The goal is to get eye-to-eye with citizens and the Dominion team. Other meetings over the next six or so weeks are in Columbia, Charleston, Aiken, Florence, Beaufort, and Myrtle Beach. (List of meetings here.)
The South Carolina government is holding various meetings. The Post and Dispatch ran the information under the headline, Want to vent to regulators about SC’s failed nuclear project? In these sessions, the South Carolina Public Service Commission, which is the state’s utility regulator, is on a listening tour. The paper says, “Pick your spot.” The meetings are:
- Sept. 24: The Public Service Commission’s office at 101 Executive Center Drive in Columbia.
- Oct. 8: The Aiken County Government Center at 1930 University Parkway in Aiken.
- Oct. 15: The Charleston County Public Services Building at 4045 Bridgeview Drive in North Charleston.
- They all start at 6 p.m.
On the Santee Cooper debate, the South Carolina Legislature has had two sessions to start the look at a possible sale of the utility. The nine-person group is said to plan meetings every other Wednesday until January. The next session is September 5 in Columbia open to the public.
“Exploring options is sound – if that really is what is expected of the panel,” said the Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, SC) in an editorial called, Open minds on future of utility, on Sunday, August 26. That goes back to the beginning of this blog post: Constructive and respectful dialogue, openness to listening. All critically important when emotions could run high.