Fairfield residents sue SCE&G, SCANA

WINNSBORO – An 11-count class action lawsuit was filed late Monday in Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas against SCANA Corp. and S.C. Electric & Gas for charging approximately 661,000 customers more than $1 billion in electricity charges to pay for two power plants that they abandoned last month.

The complaint was filed on behalf of 10 plaintiffs, all residents of Fairfield County: Edwinda Goodman, Bobby Lee Jones, Bobby Cunningham, Darreyl Davis, Phillip Cooper, Karla Cooper, Jackie Mincey, Dean M. Perry, Steve Lawson and Freddie Lawson.

According to the 21-page civil action, the companies “continue to bill its customers the increased charges leaving both defendants in possession and ownership of billions of dollars without fulfilling the promised services to the plaintiffs and hundreds of thousands of other SCE&G customers.”

“It was totally mishandled,” Winnsboro Attorney Creighton Coleman, one of the attorneys participating in the filing, told The Voice. “We think SCE&G and SCANA have treated the rate payers wrong and inappropriately, and we’re seeking refunds to the rate payers. It’s as simple as that.”

Other attorneys participating in the filing include Ed Bell of Bell Legal Group LLC in Georgetown, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Savage, Royall and Sheheen LLP in Camden and Gregory M. Galvin of Galvin Law Group LLC in Bluffton.

The lawsuit alleges that the companies “knew years before abandoning the project that the project was not feasible; not subject to a detailed construction schedule; not a good investment of the ratepayer’s money; over budget; and failing.”  It also accused the companies of making “misrepresentations, false statements and misstatements” to the state Public Service Commission about the project.

The complaint noted that while South Carolina families’ power bills are among the highest in the nation, in part because of the failed projects, that SCANA executives received more than $20 million in compensation.  It also claimed the companies “refused to abandon the project at an earlier time because they received approximately 10.25 percent profit from all the monies it collected from the plaintiffs.”

“When power companies have so much control over our lives, they should not be able to benefit from their own misdeeds and negligence,” Ed Bell of Bell Legal Group LLC in Georgetown said. “It’s pretty simple. If you don’t pay your electric bill, what do they do? They cut you off. Now, we should cut them off from future payments for a failed project.  They should be held to the same standards as their rate holders.”

The lawsuit alleges 11 causes of action, including waste, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and fraud. It accused the companies of unjust enrichment for receiving profits from the project “since the project was not completed and the plaintiffs were provided with no value from the project.”

The complaint also seeks to have the court freeze assets of the company related to the nuclear plant project.