From Scott Carlberg

Santee Cooper rates to increase. A $13 dollar a month increase in rates is anticipated by Santee Cooper over the next few years, said Santee Cooper (increase rates for the nuclear debt). As consumers are on the hook for the billions in debt it is even more important to get the figures out, consistent and understood.*

Image from WMBF-TV story

Contrast that with a customer comment in a recent Myrtle Beach civic meeting, when an audience member said she uses her power “sparingly” to make payments. (Source)

Thoughts of the Carolina coast and lowlands conjure images of sunny beaches, busy markets and glistening homes. Lots of those good scenes. It is not always the case. There are some significant economic challenges in the region. South Carolina is 42nd in overall poverty, 45th in child poverty, 35th in income inequality. (Source)

The ability to pay energy costs is a concern. Higher prices are easier to handle for some citizens more than others. The High Cost of Energy in Rural America is a report from 2018 that says, “Overall, Americans living in rural areas spend a disproportionally high share of their income on energy bills. … Rural low-income households are even worse off, shouldering a median energy burden almost three times greater than the burden faced by their higher-income counterparts. Other rural residents hit particularly hard include the elderly, nonwhite, and renting households, and those living in multifamily or manufactured homes. The problem is most glaring in the East and Southeast.”

The challenge of the poor in paying for energy has many dimensions. From the report:

  • Residents of rural manufactured housing experience a median energy burden that is 42% higher than that of rural single-family homes.
  • The median energy burden of residents of rural manufactured housing is also 32% higher than the overall rural energy burden.
  • The median energy burden of rural elderly households is 44% higher than that of non-elderly households.
  • The median energy burden of nonwhite households in rural areas is 19% higher than that of their white counterparts.

Deep issues. The kind a utility and state has to factor into planning and rates. These are part of business management in a company that provides energy service. These are questions that seem yet to be posted in a way that is easy to find.

As for Santee Cooper, what if the road to being well means to sell? Add resources that it needs, don’t add debt costs to customers, have a deeper bench for employees and the future?

Get customers off the hook. If the legislature finds a buyer that meets all their requirements, and there are several, then Santee Cooper could be in much better shape in the long run.

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*Note: Transcript from the March 19, 2019, South Carolina State Senate, SELECT COMMITTEE ON SANTEE COOPER. March 19, 2019 (video available) Regarding, “get the figures out, consistent and understood.” Excerpt about rate increases:

SENATOR MASSEY: — …and I’ve heard different numbers that have been popped up on this, but
what type of a rate increase are we looking at to pay off the debt and over what period of time would customers be paying that additional rate?

SANTEE COOPER EXEC: Senator, if you’re asking me how much of a rate adjustment it would take over what period of time to pay off the Summer debt, I can get you that answer.  …I don’t have that answer, but I can get you that answer.

… SENATOR SETZLER: I want to follow up on Senator Massey’s question. You said you don’t have
the answer today. Have you all looked at that, and do you have an answer?

SANTEE COOPER EXEC:: Yes, sir. I have the information back at the office. I just didn’t bring it with me.