Community hears Dominion Energy’s plan
by The Press and Standard | October 31, 2018 2:57 pm
Last Updated: October 31, 2018 at 7:08 pm
On the Tuesday of a complicated week for Dominion Energy, Dan A Weekley, vice president and general manager of Southern Pipeline Operations and Gas Infrastructure Group for Dominion Energy, was in Walterboro.
He and a team of Dominion Energy employees came to the Colleton Center on the afternoon of Oct. 30 to host a meet-and-greet where he had a chance to discuss how Dominion’s plan to merge with the cash-strapped and public relations disaster SCANA.
S.C. Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, D-Walterboro, invited Dominion Energy to Walterboro and was on hand to introduce Weekley.
Matthews said what some state legislators call the SCE&G or SCANA debacle is a topic of conversation wherever she goes.
The situation concerns, Matthews suggested, “the future of our state.” It concerns “what is happening in our households” as well as “the ability of South Carolina and especially this region to complete against others in getting industry. Just recently we lost a very valuable company to Georgia,” Matthews said.
The reason for the loss, she explained, was “we did not have an entity that could provide them any assurances of rates. Since the debacle has been going on, we have been crippled in economic development.”
The meet-and-greet, she said, gave residents “a chance to communicate with the one and only offer on the table.”
The plan Weekley was explaining has been on the table since early January — the one where the average residential customer would receive a one-time $1,000 rebate check if the South Carolina Public Services Commission approves the merger proposal.
That same agreement could see the customers seeing their rates reduced by seven percent with Dominion Energy promising no rate increase until 2021. That promise did not include any rate adjustment for fuel, an adjustment Weekley explained, which is an industry standard that covers fuel costs in generating electricity.
That, Weekley told those gathered in the Colleton Center, is the proposal he was on hand to talk about and the one Dominion Energy supports.
But, he added, state officials recently suggested a new proposal. One that would have Dominion Energy not cutting rebate checks and instead, doubling the percentage decrease of the customer’s rate.
Weekley said he believed S.C. officials were offering this new proposal to try and improve the electrical rates for industrial customers.
Although Dominion still backs its initial proposal, he said, the energy company was willing to negotiate the new state proposal.
That new proposal is not the only move afoot that could affect Dominion Energy’s plan to merge with SCANA.
Recently, Santee Cooper (which owns 45 percent of the abandoned V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 nuclear power plants in Jenkinsville that caused all the turmoil) filed a motion with the South Carolina Public Services Commission.
The state-owned utility company that serves approximately 200,000 customers in S.C. wants the commission to require Dominion Energy to pay Santee Cooper $351 million.
A few hours before Weekley took the stage at the Colleton Center, Dominion filed a motion with the commission calling for Santee Cooper’s request to be thrown out.
If the state regulatory agency approves the state-owned utility’s bid to obtain funding from Dominion Energy, the proposed merger between SCANA and Dominion might be scrapped.
The South Carolina Public Service Commission’s hearings on the proposed merger are set to begin in Columbia on Thursday.
The proposed merger could also be scrapped because of the multitude of suits filed in state and federal courts concerning SCANA and Santee Cooper’s failed nuclear power project.
If Dominion Energy pulls out of the merger proposal, it is likely SCANA will file bankruptcy — something some have called for because of the corporation’s mismanagement, a mismanagement that has led to state and federal investigations.
Weekley said SCANA could weather bankruptcy, but it would likely result in higher electrical rates for customers and a decrease in manpower that would adversely affect operations and maintenance.