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Speaking Out For Our Energy Future

From Scott Carlberg

For a year Energy Consumers of the Carolinas [ECC] has provided consumer information. Now readers can see a definite viewpoint in some of our work. Our site now features some calls to action about important energy issues.

It’s time. Why?

ECC believes that the Carolinas have done so well in so many energy projects. These are the states that electrified early in the 20th century, have terrains from mountains to seashores for energy resources, tapped nuclear and hydro for carbon-free electricity for decades, and have been smart adopters of renewable energy. (In fact, NC is second in the nation for installed solar capacity.)

The Carolinas are making a successful energy transition. The electric industry does not pivot quickly, though. Between the immense capital investment, regulators who have to make judgement calls and critical service needs of customers, it’s a lot to manage. The industry is changing about as fast as it can, really.

Contentious issues have been in the headlines lately, though. In particular, the failed South Carolina nuclear plant and its debt. Those represent an outsized potential to negatively impact electric consumers. What is possible – higher costs, less flexibility for innovative service, a system in some parts of South Carolina may have to work with one hand tied behind its back.

Some families already walk a tightrope in household budgeting. Adding higher electricity costs from the  failed nuclear plant can add to families’ challenges. 

ECC believes the adverse impacts reach beyond individual customers. An electric system threatened like this could reduce the appeal of the area for economic development compared to other regions of the country. That means jobs and vitality. ECC believes that a technically and financially strong electric system underpins a strong region where families happily live.

ECC believes that a state should govern on behalf of its citizens. That does not mean owning an electric system or holding nuclear debt to be handed off to customers.

The state owns Santee Cooper. Is owning and running an electric utility the role of the state? Especially when the legacy of state ownership is a $9 billion (and growing) debt that must be paid by Santee Cooper customers.

A utility with a significant scale and corresponding knowledge in integrated resource planning, grid optimization and cutting-edge data management systems can make a big difference in the energy future of the region by purchasing Santee Cooper. A utility can add financial strength to manage the debt issue. That is an opportunity for South Carolina.

There’s a role for ECC readers to play – speaking out for the energy future, for a future that benefits citizens,  families. ECC believes strongly in the need to sell Santee Cooper instead of saddling South Carolina’s families with its $9 billion debt. ECC makes it easy to participate in speaking out on that issue in our Take Action center.  Its important to be informed and involved in making decisions about the energy that will power our economic future.