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The failed V.C. Summer nuclear project was under construction for a decade.

More than two years after a botched nuclear power project revealed flaws in South Carolina’s utility regulation process, ratepayers in the state still don’t have a full-time consumer advocate to argue on their behalf. Lawmakers tasked the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs in 2018 with arguing against utilities’ efforts to raise gas, water and electricity bills. But in recent months, no one from the agency has filed briefs or testified in front of the Public Service Commission — the seven-member panel that decides utility rate cases in South Carolina. The lack of a ratepayer advocate has become apparent enough that some of the state’s utility regulators have repeatedly noted their absence. The issue is in part a symptom of the slow-moving gears of state government. The Legislature created the position in mid-2018 as part of a series of energy law changes in the wake of the failed multibillion-dollar V.C. Summer nuclear plant expansion, arguing that consumers needed a more prominent voice when utilities seek to raise rates. But they could not appropriate money for the new job until the next state budgeting process the following year, when they set aside $90,000 for the Department of Consumer Affairs to hire a new full-time attorney. — Jamie Lovegrove and Andrew Brown,  The Post and Courier

SC DMV chief warns of hourslong waits for REAL ID procrastinators

As an October 2020 deadline approaches for residents to acquire the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-mandated documentation, wait times could be unbearably long for procrastinators. “Any place I go, somebody comes up and says, ‘I’m going to get around to it,’” DMV Executive Director Kevin Shwedo says. “If you wait until January, I’m telling everybody, ‘You’ll wait as long as six hours. If you wait until next July, you may be there all day.’” With only about a quarter of the state’s population signed up, or roughly 1 million residents, Shwedo says now is the time for people to get their driver’s license or identification card switched over to the documentation that will be needed to board domestic flights and enter federal buildings and military installations. Other documentation, mainly passports and passport cards, will be considered Real ID-compliant and can also be used after the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline. Passports will still be required for international air travel. “The good news is that we’re still the fastest DMV in the country, with averaging this past month seven minutes from greeter to front desk, where other states are averaging hours. The bad news is that we’re not nearly getting as many people signed up for REAL ID as we should,” Shwedo says. — Adam Benson, The Post and Courier

Gamecock women race past Tigers for 10th straight year

The No. 5 University of South Carolina women’s basketball team notched a decade of dominance over archrival Clemson on Nov. 24, as the Gamecocks blasted the Tigers 84-48 at Littlejohn Coliseum. It was the 10th consecutive win over Clemson for USC. Coach Dawn Staley’s squad took control from the outset, holding a 42-23 edge at halftime and expanding the lead in the second half. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Aliyah Boston each popped in 13 points for the Gamecocks, while guard Ty Harris added 12. South Carolina moved to 6-0 on the season with the victory. — Chris Trainor

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