The Latest: House speaker seeks agency head's resignation

The Latest on the abandonment of a nuclear power project in South Carolina (all times local):

6 p.m.

South Carolina's House speaker says the director of a utility regulation agency should be fired over the failure of a nuclear power project.

But Gov. Henry McMaster said Wednesday he will not ask, and does not want, Dukes Scott to resign. Scott leads the Office of Regulatory Staff, an agency tasked by law with equally weighing the interests of the public, utilities and the state's economy. Legislators say it's a system built for failure.

Scott testified hours earlier to a House committee investigating two utilities' July 31 decision to abandon a nuclear power project after jointly spending nearly $10 billion. The panel cut his testimony short.

Lucas has called for the repeal or overhaul of the 10-year-old state law designed to encourage nuclear power construction.

An attorney for South Carolina's major industries said that law puts utilities' interests above customers and makes it nearly impossible for regulators to deny rate hike requests.


5 p.m.

Legislators ended a hearing on the failure of a nuclear power project in South Carolina debating whether they could legally ask state regulators about their role in the debacle.

A House panel adjourned Wednesday after House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford argued the law legislators passed in 2007 to encourage nuclear construction bars the regulators from discussing rulings that may impact future decisions.

The Public Service Commission approved in 2009 SCE&G's application to expand V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, as well as all nine of the utility's rate hikes since then. SCE&G wants the same regulators to allow them to recoup billions more from customers.

The panel heard earlier Wednesday the decade-old law continually put the utility's interests above customers and made the rate hikes nearly automatic.

Rutherford says legislators' inability to question the regulators they elect demonstrates how badly the law needs overhauled.


2:30 p.m.

An attorney representing South Carolina's major industries says ratepayers have repeatedly been shortchanged by a decade-old state law encouraging nuclear power construction, but state regulators can reject a utility's efforts to recoup billions more from residents for two now-abandoned nuclear reactors.

Scott Elliott with the South Carolina Energy Users Committee told legislators Wednesday that SCE&G's initial 2008 application to expand V.C. Summer Nuclear Station was approved without a true construction schedule, and the law made the nine requested rate hikes since nearly automatic.

While that law allows utilities to recoup money for never-completed nuclear projects, Elliott argues SCE&G isn't entitled to recoup $5 billion in debt because the project was not on schedule or budget when construction stopped.

Legislators say they want to change a system built to fail customers.