South Carolinians Still on the Hook for Failed Nuclear Plants
In the first line of his piece on failed nuclear plants in South Carolina, Alan Greenblatt speculates, “It has to be one of the greatest wastes of money in any state’s history.”
The story begins 12 years ago:
“Back in 2006, South Carolina, along with several other states, passed legislation to try to jumpstart the moribund nuclear construction industry. At the time, energy was more expensive than it is today and there was talk of Congress perhaps imposing a carbon tax. In states with growing populations, encouraging nuclear energy through a new approach seemed like a good idea.”
What also seemed like a good idea was a financing strategy that had utility customers paying for the plants as they were built, instead of being presented with a bill once they were finished.
Which is how those customers have paid $2 billion into projects that will never generate electricity; in fact, even though work has ceased, and the company contracted to build the plants went bankrupt last summer, and an audit uncovered faulty designs and poor management, South Carolinians are still paying $37 million per month to South Carolina Gas & Electric and Santee Cooper.
“The state is now trying to figure out who’s to blame, and who will pay,” Greenblatt writes, noting that it’s unlikely the utility companies could refund ratepayers even if the state demanded it, that they both claim they can’t continue to operate if the payments cease.