From Scott Carlberg

Have you seen this on social media – In 2015 everyone got this question wrong: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” 

Got that wrong especially in the Santee Cooper service territory. While no one is great at predicting the future, Santee Cooper is REALLY bad at it. Look at what they were saying five years ago…

Rosy describes the Santee Cooper annual report for 2015. Even on nuclear. Santee Cooper said the VC Summer nuclear project was on track. A-OK. There was more confidence given a change in the overall nuclear agreement: “The amended agreement also gives Santee Cooper and SCE&G more certainty on price and schedule going forward. This is good news for us and for our customers.”

On finances there is this in the 2015 report (pictured left): “Santee Cooper continues to be regarded favorably by bond investors, with successful bond sales in 2015 totaling $1.4 billion and credit rating agencies holding steady on our ratings.”

Some things are the same, some different. Santee Cooper has had two downgrades in finances since 2018. One reason ratings haven’t gone down further may be that it only takes a Santee Cooper board vote to raise rates on customers. No regulatory oversight. Just a handful of people who can change the rates.

The 2016 annual report (pictured right) says: “We also had great success with the spring Mini-Bond sale, which took place in April. It was the largest, most successful Mini-Bond sale in Santee Cooper history, totaling $42,142,700 from 2,297 separate purchases.”

This July a federal judge ordered a discovery phase in an investor lawsuit, and a news report notes mini-bonds. (Source)

Look back five years at Santee Cooper. Rosy as can be. As the Santee Cooper annual report says, “As we look to the future, Santee Cooper will continue to emphasize sound business practices that will keep us lean and agile.”

Maybe people should take Santee Cooper’s rosy predictions of the next five years considering the past five with a grain of salt. Look at the facts, the legacy, the deep corporate culture of what is said versus what is done.

Where do you see this in 2025? Still paying off nuclear debt (and collecting receipts for money paid for no nuclear power), building burdensome customer debt, and playing catch-up on renewables?

Or, in five years will customers see nuclear debt as a distant memory, be served with clean energy, and with a progressive energy company with a proven track record of saying what they do and doing what they say. That is the option that makes sense.

Gimme 5, but done right.