The S.C. Legislature on Friday officially reopened its search for a new crop of state utility regulators, hoping to attract a broader field of candidates.
More than 17 people applied last year for four open seats on the Public Service Commission, the panel that decides how much money millions of South Carolinians pay for gas, water and electricity.
An appointed group of state lawmakers whittled that large field down to six candidates in January, saying the others were not qualified for the job. They even rejected Swain Whitfield, who's been on a commission member for more than a decade.
As a result, lawmakers are once again on the hunt for people interested in taking up a seat on the commission — a job that pays roughly $129,000 a year.
State lawmakers are solely responsible for electing the utility regulators. They are not elected by the public.
The four available seats are broken down by congressional districts. Those interested in applying must live in either the state's First, Third, Fifth or Seventh congressional districts. They have until Feb. 28 to submit an application.
The Legislature's decision to reopen the search highlights the focus state lawmakers are placing on the commission. The panel has been under the microscope in recent years, following the failed $9 billion expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County.
The commission is responsible for scrutinizing for-profit utilities operating within the state. They include Dominion Energy, which bought South Carolina Electric & Gas last year, and Charlotte-based Duke Energy.