By Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina lawmakers are reopening the search for candidates for four regulator seats on the state’s utility board after the initial search only turned up six qualified candidates.

The Legislature’s Public Utilities Review Committee held hearings earlier this month to review the qualifications of 17 candidates for the state Public Service Commission.

They found 11 of them not qualified to be on the board which regulates gas, water, electric and telecommunications utilities. One of the candidates deemed not qualified was Swain Whitfield, who has been on the board for more than 10 years.

Candidates who withdrew from the race or were found not qualified cannot run again for the seats in the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th Congressional districts, according to the proposal.

The Senate unanimously passed the proposal last week and the House voted 78-32 to give key approval to it on Thursday.

The proposal will soon head to Gov. Henry McMaster’s desk and spokesman Brian Symmes said the governor will sign it.

The Public Service Commission has been under increased scrutiny since two South Carolina utilities poured $9 billion, much of it paid by customers, into the construction of two nuclear reactors and the project was abandoned before generating any power.

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