We are in the third week of the Public Service Commission’s hearing into utility company SCANA and the role the company played in a failed nuclear plant that has cost customers millions of dollars.
So far in the 10 days of the hearing, testimony has revealed that the company lied about the status of the project and ultimately offset extra costs on customers.
On Tuesday, discussions got pretty heated as former employees took the stand and shared what they knew about the project’s failure early on.
Carlette Walker was one of those employees. Walker, a former accountant for SCANA, told PSC members she was constantly reprimanded for speaking out about the company’s misleading information and had to often exaggerate in correspondence with executives.
“That’s what Jimmy Addison wanted to hear. Just like the other one is what Ann Marie wanted to hear. If you got 5 executives trying to beat you up and run you out of the company that’s what revert to,” said an emotional Walker.
The commission will have to decide how much of a role the company played in the plant’s failure and if leaving the plant behind was the best decision.
Commissioner Justin Williams explained the task at hand. “The decision the commission has to make regarding whether or not it was prudent to abandon the plant and whether the merger is in the best interest of South Carolina.”
When asked why she waited so long to reveal such pertinent information to the PSC, Walker replied she was dedicated to the project and company working every day for the first 3 years of the project.
“I had a heart attack in March that the doctors confirmed that it was nothing but stress from the job. that job just about killed me,” Walker added.
But the drama behind SCANA’s doors forced Walker to leave and other employees to question the company’s actions.
Walker said she was placed on special medical leave after speaking out, which eventually led to her departure.
Ken Browne, a former SCE&G engineer, said he saw a lot of documents get approved that probably should have been investigated a little more thoroughly.
Browne told PSC members, “Mr. Jones was aware of the problems, and I like to chase a problem to the end.
And Mr. Jones in my opinion, he was willing to accept answers that I would not have accepted.”
During a brief 10-minute break during the hours of testimony and cross-examination Tuesday, an attorney for Dominion Energy, which is looking to merge with SCANA, revealed a second proposal from the energy company.
So far Dominion has proposed a $1000 refund immediately for customers as well as lower rates. But Tuesday, the company offered another deal which gets rid of that refund, but brings utility bills to around $122 for customers. “Plan B” would also decrease the rate currently put in place by lawmakers.
Customers are currently paying an extra 5% on their utility bills after lawmakers slashed the 18% they’ve been paying for the failed nuclear plant. That temporary rate is set to expire next month.