RELEASE – Court reduces legal fees in SCE&G case and returns more money to ratepayers

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – A Circuit Court judge has signed an order reducing the legal fees going to lawyers for SCE&G ratepayers, which means millions of dollars more will go back to the ratepayers. Judge John Hayes signed the order late Tuesday reducing the legal fees from $66 million to $51 million.

Attorney General Alan Wilson had argued for the legal fees to be reduced, citing the fact that his office’s work was the main catalyst for settling the lawsuit and that the state’s work greatly reduced the amount of work that needed to be done by the lawyers for SCE&G ratepayers.

The lawyers for ratepayers originally asked for five percent of the $2.2 billion settlement, or $110 million. The settlement order points out that the lawyers for SCE&G ratepayers stated that they had already reduced their original five percent request to three percent, “and in further consideration of the Attorney General’s comments, Class counsel agreed to further reduce their fee request from 3% of the maximum common benefit of $2.2 billion ($66 million) to $51 million, which is equivalent to 2.318% of the maximum common benefit of $2.2 billion.

This reduction in their fee request of approximately 22.7% is in recognition of the strong advocacy of the Attorney General, and the arguments vigorously advanced by the Objectors. In response to this reduction, the Objectors have withdrawn their objection to the adjusted fee request.”

“We’re glad to see that the judge and the lawyers involved recognized how crucial the work done by the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of ratepayers was in settling this case,” Attorney General Wilson said. “We fought to get as much money as possible for the ratepayers, and are glad that the legal fees awarded are less than half what was originally requested.”

The settlement order recognized that the Attorney General’s Office’s opinion that the Base Load Review Act was unconstitutional as applied was the key part in settling this case. The BLRA was a law that allowed SCE&G to charge ratepayers for nuclear reactors that were still under construction. When the company abandoned that project, ratepayers had shelled out billions of dollars and gotten nothing in return.