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Taking Steps Forward in the Santee Cooper Situation

From Scott Carlberg

The South Carolina legislature is moving ahead in the potential sale of Santee Cooper. For good reason.

Unless sold, Santee Cooper customers will pay higher electricity rates to help pay for a hole in the ground.

Governor McMaster in his State of the State Address made it pretty clear that Santee Cooper is saddled with immense debt, in large part from the VC Summer nuclear reactor construction project. “This huge debt will have to be paid. Santee Cooper will have no choice but to raise rates on customers to pay this debt," he said.

"A ticking time bomb” is the way one person described the Santee Cooper debt for ratepayers, according to a story in the Coastal Observer. The customers, direct and co-ops, that buy from Santee Cooper, have a lot on the line.  They will have to shoulder burden of Santee Cooper's massive debt, through higher rates, to help pay for what amounts to an abandoned hole in the ground.

The South Carolina legislature has made smart progress on this issue. The senate passed a bill to invite bids of various kinds. The South Carolina House has moved ahead now, setting a December deadline for bids to be submitted to the legislature.  One step closer to a solution to avoid debt exposure for electric consumers.

“We must be deliberate and wise,” said the Governor. “I ask that members of the General Assembly keep an open and objective mind when you receive this information,” he said. Agree. We'll add, timely, because time is of the essence in solving this debt problem.

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