In an opinion by Acting Chief Justice John Kittredge, the Court rules in favor of the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, represented by Wyche attorney Wallace Lightsey, affirming that Duke Energy cannot recover North Carolina environmental clean-up costs by increasing rates for South Carolina customers
GREENVILLE, SC (October 28, 2021) – The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Wyche client, South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, in Duke Energy’s appeal of the South Carolina Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision that Duke Energy could not recover North Carolina environmental costs in its South Carolina rates.
On May 26th, Wyche’s Wallace Lightsey appeared before the South Carolina Supreme Court to try to stop Duke Energy from increasing the electricity bills of its South Carolina customers by close to a billion dollars. Representing the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, Lightsey argued that Duke Energy should not be allowed to raise its South Carolina rates in order to recoup over $800 million of expenses it will incur for environmental clean-up actions required by a North Carolina law that applies only to Duke’s properties and activities in that state.
“Federal law sets the minimum requirements for disposal of coal ash,” Lightsey argued. “Any state can require more if it wants to. But what a state cannot do is to shift the costs of its own unique requirements onto the citizens of another state. This is exactly what Duke is trying to do here.”
Lightsey noted that Duke Energy’s South Carolina customers had no political representation in the enactment of the North Carolina law and have no political remedy if they disagree with the policy of that law or the cost it entails. The PSC held that Duke Energy could not recover these costs in its South Carolina rates, and Lightsey urged the Supreme Court to affirm that ruling.
The opinion issued by Acting Chief Justice Kittredge noted, “After careful review, we respectfully reject Duke’s effort to recast the PSC’s factual findings as legal errors. We therefore affirm the PSC’s comprehensive orders.” The South Carolina Supreme Court decision represents a complete victory for Duke Energy’s South Carolina customers and will safeguard them from unfairly being required to pay for costs incurred solely because of another state’s legislation.