This article was originally published in Charleston Post and Courier on January 31st, 2018.
Costing over $9 billion, the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant was a bruising failure. South Carolina electric customers need a fresh start. To get that, they ought to avoid a shotgun marriage between SCANA and shareholder-owned Dominion Energy.
Like many electric utilities, Dominion Energy has a government-granted monopoly that shields it from competition. Like some others, it has repeatedly employed this grant of public service to extract substantial benefits for its shareholders from its captive customers. This tendency to abuse the public trust tends to get worse as companies merge and grow bigger, upsizing their economic and political power.
In a recent report I authored for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, we detail the rising tide of utility mergers across the country. In the past two decades, utility companies have grown from regional powers within states into multi-state conglomerates with dubious economies of scale but powerfully evident economies of lobbying. These mergers make big headlines and big returns for utility shareholders, but often leave customers with second thoughts about the marriage. Continue reading