Russ McKinney

Reporter, Producer

Russ McKinney has 30 years of experience in radio news and public affairs.  He is a former broadcast news reporter in Spartanburg, Columbia and Atlanta.  He served as Press Secretary to former S.C. Governor Dick Riley for two terms, and for 20 years was the chief public affairs officer for the University of South Carolina.

Ways to Connect

V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 Aerial View, Jan. 2017.
SCANA

It was the first week of August, 2017 when then SCANA and SCE&G CEO Kevin Marsh told state regulators that the $9 Billion V.C. Summer Nuclear Reactor project was being scrapped before it could produce a single kilowatt of power. The magnitude of the action set off a tumultuous year that has left the futures of SCE&G and its partner in the project, state owned utility Santee-Cooper in doubt.

U.S. Air Force/Pascual Flores

For the past couple of months a group of state regulators, utility executives, representatives of the state’s fledgling solar energy industry, and environmentalists have been meeting in Columbia trying to come together on a new plan that could determine the future of residential solar energy use in the state.

A Maersk Line container ship approaching the ravenel bridge in Charleston.
SC Ports Authority

  According to a recent analysis by the U.S Chamber of Commerce, South Carolina will be among the state’s hit hardest by the looming trade war, threatening the more than $30 Billion dollars in goods exported from the state each year.  The state exports cars, steel products, refrigerators, soybeans and many other goods putting it in the top three states in the country that relies on exports and imports.

According to the U. S. Chamber, almost 580,000  jobs in the state are tied to trade, and there are more than 6,000 companies operating here that export goods around the world.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

Lawmakers head toward a perfunctory session with work stalling on next year's state budget and V.C. Summer Nuclear bills.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

This year's session of the General Assembly has adjourned, but lawmakers will return to Columbia for unfinished business.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

The SC General Assembly heads towards its' final week of the 2018 session. Key bills have yet to pass, but Democrats in the State Senate managed to kill a sweeping anti-abortion bill.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

The State House and Senate remain at odds over reducing SCE&G's nuclear charge, and the state will soon have a new Child Advocate.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

The S.C. General Assembly has moved to cut SCE&G's nuclear rate, and prison violence sparks calls for action.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

The SC Senate approves next year's $8 Billion state budget, and a major setback for proponents of solar energy in the state.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

Action on the future of Santee Cooper, and the future solar energy industry were debated by the SC House of Representatives this week.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

Fallout from the V.C. Summer nuclear fiasco dominated action at the State House this week.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

Keeping schools safe, and passage of a new state "liquor bill" highlight action at the Statehouse this week.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

The S.C. House of Representatives approves next year's $8 Billion state budget package, and gun safety measures advance in the State Senate.

House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, and House members slamming state Senators for what they see as a lack of Senate action on the V.C. Summer Nuclear debacle. Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Half way through the 2018 session of the S.C General Assembly, members of the House and Senate are at odds concerning the V.C. Summer Nuclear project, and the Senate has passed a bill re-instating the use of the 'electric chair' for death sentences.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

Gun safety advocates were out in force at the Statehouse this week, and leaders of the House of Representatives express frustration with the State Senate over the V.C. Summer Nuclear issue.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

A major anti-abortion bill is headed for debate in the Senate, and work is underway on next year's almost nine-billion-dollar state budget.

Former Rep. Rick Quinn talking with news reporters at the Richland County Courthouse in Columbia, after his indictment in May, 2017.
Jim Covington/SCETV

More fallout from the ongoing Statehouse corruption probe, and the S.C. Senate moves to give state regulators more time to consider SCANA Corp and Dominion Energy's request to continue to charge ratepayers for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

This week the issue of the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project moved from the State House of Representatives to the Senate, and a controversial bill prohibiting cities and counties from banning plastic bags being sold is passed by the  House.

The S.C. House voted 119-1 this week to pass a bill that would temporarily halt customers of SCE&G from paying for the abandoned VC Summer Nuclear Project.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

The S.C. House this week passed what's expected to be the most important piece of legislation to be considered during the 2018  legislative session, a repeal of the 2007 Base Load Review Act.

File: Gov. Henry McMaster
Mark Adams/SCETV

Gov. Henry McMaster delivers his first State of the State Address to the SC General Assembly, and as expected fallout from the V.C. Summer nuclear debacle is shaping up to be the dominant issue for this years' legislative session.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

Wintry weather cut this week's session of the SC General Assembly short, but lawmakers had plenty of questions for the CEO of Dominion Energy.  Domion Energy has proposed to buy SCANA Corp., the parent company of South Carolina Electric and Gas.

State House Week
SC Public Radio

State lawmakers returned to Columbia this week for the 2018 session of the S.C. General Assembly. Fallout from last summer's collapse of the V.C. Nuclear is expected to dominate this year's session.  Also, this week the House of Representatives wasted little time in overriding Gov. Henry McMaster's veto of some $20 million dollars for new school buses.

 Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols.  On Jan. 8, 2018, Echols will complete a 20 year tenure as the City's longest serving mayor.
City of Rock Hill, S.C.

Doug Echols concludes his 20 year tenure as Mayor of Rock Hill, SC on Jan. 8, 2018.  He is the longest serving Mayor in Rock Hill history.  Attorney and former City Council member John Gettys assumes the Mayor's Office.  Rock Hill is a City on the move.  It is now the fifth largest in the state, and is considered a model for successful planned growth.

Map: SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs

Next week state officials expect the U.S. Census Bureau to officially estimate that the state’s population has passed the five million mark.  In fact, they believe the state reached that milestone back on June 8th.  Officials estimate that the state is growing by 157 people a day making it one of the fastest growing states in the country.  And it’s growing really fast.  It took 67 years for the state to grow by a million people, from one million to two million. It took just 17 years though to grow from four million to five million people.

Federal Highway Administration

The five major interstate highways that crisscross South Carolina are part of its social and economic lifeblood.  Since 1982, when Ronald Reagan was President, there have been plans for a sixth interstate, I-73 which would run from the North Carolina-South Carolina state line near Bennettsville through the Pee Dee to the tourist Mecca of Myrtle Beach. Over the years there have been a number of proposed routes for the new federal highway, questions about how best to pay for it, and concerns raised by environmental groups.

South Carolina Focus
SC Public Radio

The curtain surrounding the ongoing probe into alleged Statehouse corruption was raised some this week as special prosecutor David Pascoe alleged for the first time in open court that the powerful Republican political consultant, Richard Quinn, Sr. is at the center of what he called a “sphere of unlawful influence over elected officials." Quinn and four current and former legislators were indicted last week on criminal conspiracy charges.

A statue of John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie outside his family home in Cheraw, SC.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Events are underway this week in the Chesterfield County town of Cheraw for the S.C. Jazz Festival.  This year's festival, the 12th annual Jazz Festival, has special significance because on October 21, 1917 jazz great Dizzy Gillespie was born in Cheraw.   Although Gillespie died in 1993 at age 75, his musical legacy endures.

Veteran jazz performer, and professor of music at Lander University Dr. Robert Gardiner says Dizzy Gillespie was perhaps the greatest trumpet player ever.

HLD Lowers Steam Generator into Containment at SCE&G's VCS Unit 2, Jan 10, 2017.
SCE&G

The political firestorm surrounding the failed V-C Summer nuclear project intensified this week with the release of a private document containing the results of a critical audit of the management of the mammoth construction project.

V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 Aerial View, Jan. 2017.
SCANA

This week’s momentous decision by South Carolina Electric and Gas Company and Santee Cooper to abandon a project to build two, new nuclear reactors after spending billions of dollars, could cause economic and political ramifications for the state that could last years.

It is believed that the final price tag for the project could have ended end up being $25 Billion. It’s original projected cost was $10 Billion. 

HLD Lowers Steam Generator into Containment at SCE&G's VCS Unit 2, Jan 10, 2017.
SCE&G

The saga of the problem plagued V.C. Summer nuclear project continues, but its’ future will be determined by some critical decisions expected to be made over the next several months.

Two new Westinghouse reactors are under construction by SCE&G and state-owned utility Santee Cooper at SCE&G’s Summer plant some 25 miles north of Columbia in Fairfield County.

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