COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A decade ago, utilities were persuading politicians around the country to let them spend big to go nuclear. It was a sure bet, they said, since natural gas was expensive, electricity demand was skyrocketing and the government was poised to cripple fossil-fuel plants.

State legislators were sold. Some even said utilities could charge customers up front and recover any losses, even if they never produced a nuclear kilowatt.

More than $10 billion later, South Carolina's utilities admit they got those assumptions wrong, but they want customers to pay another $5 billion to cover their costs after abandoning two partly-built reactors.

An environmentalist says that money could have gone to renewable energy.

Others say nuclear is key to fighting climate change, and won't exist if the federal government doesn't finance it.