From Scott Carlberg

“Plan your work, then work your plan.” Common words of wisdom about managing a problem or project.  Many organizations followed that philosophy. Serves them well. Lots of logic to it.

A plan has been created by the state to handle Santee Cooper concerns. Following that plan serves Santee Cooper customers and other stakeholders best, especially when it come to the enormous debt.

The South Carolina Legislature and Governor seem to share the wise philosophy about planning work and working the plan. They have followed certain steps.

  • Learn. Listen to various sources. Identify what has to be solved.
  • Test information. That was the consultant report received in February 2019. It is important not to be insulated in viewpoints.
  • Plan next steps. The state said it would consider a sale or reform of the utility, as well as Santee Cooper’s own plan for reform, in response to the issues identified.
  • Expect cooperation. A timeline was created and stakeholders were asked to follow that direction by the owner of the utility, the state government.

The elected government of the state laid out a plan. That is good. Now for all to follow the letter and spirit of the plan.

Central to the plan must be: Eliminate the debt. Eliminate it for customers in 2020, not 40 years from now.  Debt hangs over Santee Cooper customers. Customers owe the money Santee Cooper spent.

The state is not responsible for the debt, but the state sits in the debt’s shadow.  The good news is that the state can be the catalyst to eliminate the debt, to show how family finances are respected and de-risked by the state.

An Associated Press story said it well: “Legislators worried about how that debt may affect not just the 2 million customers who get power from Santee Cooper or though South Carolina’s electric cooperatives who buy it from the utility. They also are worried that debt could hit every state resident and voted in this year’s session to gather information and possible bids for a private utility to buy the state-owned agency or at least manage it.”

So, kudos to the Legislature and Governor for setting up a system, managed by the State Department of Administration, to address the ongoing Santee Cooper issues – debt, accountability, decision-making.

As for the organization itself, as Santee Cooper’s Code of Ethics says, in part, “As a state-owned utility, the company is held accountable to the citizens of the state and as such, operates under public scrutiny.” No organizational activity should be detrimental to this Code of Ethics.

The state and the public can weigh in on what activities fall outside the processes established by the State of South Carolina and its Department of Administration.

The State of South Carolina planned its work. Now, it is essential for all involved to work to that plan.