Where was the utilities committee?

August 11, 2017

Inside Insight

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Somebody wasn’t doing something

By HANNAH HILL

Earlier this week the House speaker and the Senate president pro tem each created special legislative committees in response to the abandonment of the V.C. Summer nuclear project.

Speaker Jay Lucas said in his press release that “The only responsible path forward is to comprehensively study the issue,” and that “Every possible option must be considered and remains on the table.” He particularly encouraged the committee to review the Base Load Review Act and examine the state Public Service Commission’s authority.

Leatherman’s letter announcing his committee used similar language, adding that the Senate committee has the authority to review “all aspects of this project and the chain of decisions made by the management of SCE&G and Santee Cooper as well as the governmental actions of the Public Service Commission and the Office of Regulatory Staff.”

That sounds well and good, doesn’t it? After all, lawmakers created the system and passed the Base Load Review Act, so they should take responsibility for fixing it, right?

Except… there’s a problem. One government board is missing from Leatherman’s list of things to look into – and it may bear the greatest culpability of all: the Public Utilities Review Committee (PURC).

The PURC is a 10-member board made up of three senators, three House members, and four members of the general public. It was created by state law and not only nominates the Public Service Commission members and picks the Office of Regulatory Staff executive director, but conducts their annual performance reviews. And the PURC has to send those performance reviews to the General Assembly.

There’s more: state law instructs the PURC to evaluate the PSC’s actions so the General Assembly may better judge “whether these actions serve the best interests of the citizens of South Carolina, both individual and corporate.” To that end, the PURC can undertake studies and evaluations as necessary.

The investigation these legislative committees are charged with now was more or less supposed to be happening all along – and it was the PURC’s job.

Somebody evidently wasn’t doing something.

Here’s the cherry on top: The six legislators currently sitting on the PURC – Senators Thomas Alexander, Luke Rankin and Brad Hutto, and Representatives Bill Sandifer, Mike Forrester and David Mack – are on these new legislative committees. This is a little like asking the foxes to investigate depredations at the henhouse.

If the General Assembly is making a good faith effort to find out what caused this fiasco, one of the things they need to ask is why the PURC never blew the whistle on any of it. You have to wonder how likely that is to happen when half of the PURC members are helping with the investigation.

The Speaker’s press release added that Sandifer (who also chairs the House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee) is “included to help streamline the committee’s efforts.”

That’s kind of what we were afraid of. This is not a good start, gentlemen.

Nerve stories are always free to reprint and repost. We only ask that you credit The Nerve.
  • Chuck

    I should have known it our Horry County Ambulance Chaser – Luke Rankin is on this committee. We have paid for this fiasco for years. Unfortunately he still has three years before we can “Drain the Swamp”.

    • ELCID

      RANKIN, The Myrtle Beach Thief!!!

  • cc

    I should have known hugh leatherman would be involved in this scam. Any time his name is mentioned you know is’t some kind of questionable activity.

  • Brian Barnes

    So let’s go after whoever appoints the PURC…any guesses? Sen. Leatherman and Jay Lucas, of course! Come on writer, that was too easy of a question for you to have left unanswered.

  • ELCID

    The legislature is doing all it can to block experienced experts from this Utilities Review Committee. Instead, the usual suspects along with job seeking PSC candidates are all trying to load the committee. No Engineers, No Construction Experts, No CPA’s, no one who could expose this sham for what it is: a big COVER UP!!!

  • Philip Branton

    Dear Major General Robert E. Livingston, Jr. (The Adjutant General, South Carolina)

    Sir, when you read this article, do you have the inclination to call up one of your counterintelligence personnel serving you and the taxpayers and ask them to inform you about the dominoes and risk highlighted in this article.?
    The self interest and unethical optics of these political appointments do remind you of the COIN dynamics in Kabul or Baghdad…..don’t they..?
    You and I both know that this article can spout about Jay Lucas and Leatherman but the Statehouse IT Administrator and server remote access personnel are more strategic.

    Sir……… Lookout. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/04c5df65db4b2cee09841e925daffcc9f7423e0a4b5ce980bf446e85cd1a3cdc.jpg

  • dm10ae

    This is so typical of SC politicians to create a committee to study what happened with the nuclear power plant and money -day late…..
    Same with the retirement pension, no one is answerable to the employees or taxpayers, even the comptroller was kicked off the oversight.