ECC has said all along that customers will be paying for Santee Cooper’s debt, and recently the state-owned utility has been in court to make sure that their customers can’t get off the hook.
Arguing against Santee Cooper in a class action suit are unhappy customers. They want a refund for the five rate increases Santee Cooper has charged them for a nuclear power plant that doesn’t provide any power. They do not want to be charged in the future, either.
That puts Santee Cooper in the unique position of trying to assure nervous customers that they won’t be stuck paying the REST of the approximately $7 billion they STILL owe, while at the same time trying to convince the court that customers can’t get a refund for the money the utility has already wasted on a non-producing plant.
What’s next in the whole process? The South Carolina Department of Administration will issue a report that recommends what to do with Santee Cooper – sell, have someone else manage it, or let Santee Cooper take care of itself. That report goes to elected officials.
If the Legislature votes to sell Santee Cooper, customers and the state climb from the hole, reduce financial risks, protecting customers from paying for the debt from VC Summer.
Make no mistake, big numbers are center stage and at stake for everyone: Billions in dollars. Millions of customers. Endless hours spent untangling issues. According to news stories, tens-of-thousands of documents produced in the pending court case.
These numbers could have been devoted to future reliable, clean, smart energy for South Carolina customers. Opportunities may have passed by. Dollars vanished. Time spent. Trust gone.
So a court case may decide it. Santee Cooper argues for no refund and for customers to pay for the plant that does not exist. Paying for a phantom plant.
The legal case is grinding through the state court. April 20 is the current date to start the trial. August 2017 was the filing date of the case.
Policymakers – don’t allow the same mistake to happen over and over. Stop the pain. Let customers of Santee Cooper have what is due in their wallets through a sale.
If you are at the bottom of a pit and are thrown a lifeline, grab it. Sell.