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People Power is Especially Important NOW in SC Electric Cooperatives

From Scott Carlberg

It’s electric cooperative annual meeting season, so customers (co-op members) may be planning to attend the meeting that elects leaders and determines the future of their organizations. Especially true in South Carolina.

ECC hopes members will attend. It is the essence of the community-spirited nature of all co-ops. Electric cooperative members must invest their time and effort to receive the best possible cooperative experience.

Many South Carolina co-op members have a big reason to pay attention: Debt of Santee Cooper. 

Seems odd, but it is true. Of the 20 co-ops in South Carolina, much of their power comes from Santee Cooper. Anyone served by a co-op in SC can be impacted. 

In other words, direct customers, whose power bill says Santee Cooper at the top, are responsible for Santee Cooper debt. Indirect customers of Santee Cooper, people whose co-ops buy power from Santee Cooper, also feel the pressure of debt.

There is about $9 billion in debt at Santee Cooper. The debt increases about $1 million a day. It increases for direct and indirect customers. Every day, until something is done by the South Carolina government.

In this season of co-op annual meetings what can members (customers) do?

Attend your co-op meeting. Participate. Ask questions. It’s your co-op.

TAKE ACTION: Write Your Legislators in Support of Selling Santee Cooper

What kind of questions might be reasonable? Here are possibilities.

  • Is there a business relationship between our co-op and Santee Cooper? If there is, what is the relationship?
  • How can this relationship impact us as members/customers and prices of power?
  • What kind of plan does our co-op have in place to mitigate increases in the cost of power?
  • How can we be shielded from this large debt?

Any question about the planning and execution of power reliability, cost, and safety for co-ops and customers is reasonable to respectfully ask in a meeting. Management has to think about these kinds of things every day, and they put a lot of effort into this work. Some amazingly dedicated people run co-ops.

ECC has said that the common bond of co-op members is high-touch, participatory governance. It’s personal, more like working with neighbors than a business sometimes. That means that co-op members have a responsibility to know their management and their co-op. Contribute to the success of a co-op by simply caring. No small responsibility since these power providers fill important public health, safety and convenience needs.

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A list of South Carolina Electric Cooperatives is here. Check Santee Cooper Fingertip Facts 2017 for other co-op information.