Since my last update regarding VC Summer, I have traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of our federal legislative delegation and policy experts, had many conversations with people involved with the project, attended another South Carolina Senate VC Summer Nuclear Review Committee meeting, and met with the governor.
In this time, I have learned many things and have begun considering and discussing what can be done to make this situation hurt ratepayers less, to guarantee that it cannot happen again, and to address changes that can be made legislatively going forward.
Based on what I have learned, I am certain that the Legislature needs to repeal the Base Load Review Act, assess our regulatory environment and make changes for improvement, and either sell or restructure Santee Cooper.
Repealing the Base Load Review Act and taking a hard look at our regulatory system will provide important protections for ratepayers. It will mean that private utilities cannot finance projects that have not yet been built on the backs of ratepayers.
The Public Service Commission and Office of Regulatory Staff’s structure and function need to be more finely tuned.
As for Santee Cooper – a political subdivision/public utility – I am not sure if the best solution is to sell immediately or restructure for a sale at a later date. A decision of this magnitude needs to be made deliberately and carefully so that further harm is not done.
I am engaged in these discussions and will withhold judgment about what to do with them until we get more information from the experts.
That said, my hope is that construction will restart and the reactors will be completed (similar to the Vogtle plant in Georgia).
If a sale of Santee Cooper achieves that objective, I will be more inclined to support it. If we cannot complete the two reactors at VC Summer, then we must weigh whether Santee Cooper is sold now at a discount or later once financial solvency is attained.
I will continue to advocate for limited government. Political subdivisions across our state exist for historical reasons that are no longer valid. Privatizing all political subdivisions reasonably possible will let free market forces improve the lives of our citizens.
I will keep you informed.
The legislative session begins in January. I anticipate all of these things to be major issues to address.
William Timmons represents District 6 in the South Carolina State Senate and is an entrepreneur and attorney in Greenville.