Ever since Dominion Energy announced its plans to buy SCANA last week, its PR team has wasted no time trying to convince South Carolina ratepayers that the takeover is in their best interest.
Customers of SCANA subsidiary SCE&G are currently paying an average of $27 a month for the abandoned construction of two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer nuclear station in Jenkinsville. Dominion is in the process of clearing the $14.6 million purchase of the embattled private utility with the Public Service Commission and winning the support of S.C. legislators.
The Virginia-based powerhouse, which operates in 17 states, has so far splashed ads across print and digital pages of The State, Post & Courier, and Charleston City Paper in their shameless courting of public opinion.
Among the benefits to customers being touted in the media push are:
– An average reduction in monthly payments from $20 to $27 per month
– A $1.7 billion write-off of the $9 billion cost related to the abandonment
– A $1,000 refund for the average SCE&G customer
Thing is, SCE&G customers were already entitled to that last one. According to The Post & Courier, SCANA reached a $1.2 billion settlement with contractor Toshiba last summer that it promised to pass on to customers. The refund checks are part of that guarantee, according to Dominion’s SEC filing for the offer.
Lobbying related to the proposed purchase is expected to ramp up in the coming weeks as the state legislature considers a deluge of pre-filed bills addressing the fallout from SCANA and Santee Cooper’s abandoned construction. P&C found that Dominion spent $13,500 in contributions to state lawmakers and legislative caucuses in the last three months of 2017.
“It’s probably going to be one of the most intense lobbying efforts you’ve ever seen,” Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) told P&C. “It’s coming.”