Got nuclear mail? Here’s why

You may be one of the 700,000 SCE&G customers scratching their heads over getting a legal document in the mail that appears to be from the SC Public Service Commission. The lengthy notice, packed with dense legalese, lays out in blunt language SCANA’s plans to keep charging you for the next 60 years for the cost of building and tearing down their ill-conceived investment in two nuclear reactors.

The notice reads like it could have come from the Sierra Club, as it casts the power company in a rather bad light. But that’s unlikely because the mailing cost more than a quarter-million dollars.

What happened? The power company had asked for a PSC hearing on getting its money out of ratepayers after abandoning the reactors. State law requires utilities to notify their customers prior to hearings on rate changes. Those notices are usually sent as a little slip of paper along with your bill. In this case, there was no billing cycle to meet the deadline for notice of the hearing, so the power company sent the notice as a separate mailing.

Anyone paying attention to the inner workings of the power company has noticed that its  corporate attorneys are recent hires. It’s a good guess that someone will be looking for a new job, as a post card with a “notice of hearing” would have sufficed. The 700,000 letters to outraged customers made it clear that SCANA plans to continue to bill our grandchildren for electricity they will never receive from a plant that will never be built.

The SC Progressive Network will file to be a party in the PSC’s decision to bill the ratepayers for SCANA’s bad investment. “We will target the business-friendly religion that South Carolina lawmakers worship at the expense of reason and fairness,” said Network Director Brett Bursey. “This mess we’re now in is a direct product of a political culture that allows regulatory agencies to put profits over people.”

SCANA skates on taxes

By Brett Bursey
SC Progressive Network

South Carolina’s only Fortune 500 company, SCANA, paid less than 1/10th of one percent in state income taxes between 2008 and 2010, according to a new study. In 2009, SCANA paid no taxes on over a half-billion dollars in profit.

Citizens for Tax Justice just released the study “Corporate Tax Dodging in the Fifty States, 2008-2010” which found that 68 consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies paid no state corporate income tax in at least one of the last three years. The 265 companies profiled in the study made a total profit of $1.329 trillion, and paid an average of 3 percent state corporate income tax.

SCANA paid $1 million in taxes on $1.590 billion in profit during the three years the study covers.

SCANA Corporation is a $9 billion Fortune 500 energy-based holding company, based in Cayce, SC, whose businesses include regulated electric and natural gas utility operations and other energy-related businesses. SCANA’s subsidiaries serve approximately 610,000 electric customers in South Carolina and more than one million natural gas customers in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.

According to the Sunlight Foundation’s new Influence Explorer web site, SCANA made $677,835 in campaign contributions (73 percent to Republicans) and paid $3,340,000 to their fleet of lobbyists during those three years.

While South Carolina’s corporate tax rate of 5 percent is lower than in 39 other states that tax corporate income, South Carolina’s most profitable company is paying only .02 percent on their profits.

Someone please tell Gov. Nikki Haley and the Taxed Enough Already crowd that SCANA’s corporate stockholders are laughing at them — all the way to their bank in the Cayman Islands.