From Scott Carlberg

Santee Cooper’s claims of reform do not have to be long term. Just need to be a few months until the heat is off. At that point everyone will be so tired of talking about Santee Cooper it can go on its way. Won’t matter if the right thing is done. It will be over and out of the headlines.

It’s one of the “Well, duh…” things that hit me about the company and its efforts to forestall change.

A couple of “duh” things hit me about the whole debate.

One of those items was in a FITS News column: “Duh … government shouldn’t be in the business of running a power company.”

That is a paradox. In a Judicial Committee meeting recently I heard one of the members discuss how dedicated he is to free enterprise, capitalism. The committee discussed reform so South Carolina can keep its power company.

Contrary concepts. How does the state do both? Looking forward to that discussion.

Perhaps if a state power company is a “business of choice” for the State of South Carolina, it ought to own the power companies across the whole state. Why not? Live your dream. Extend the current logic of the legislature. Get a bid ready.

The free enterprise discussion follows the same logic of the state supporting a public service commission that is not used for its own asset – Santee Cooper. It cramps the style of a state agency to be exposed to a real business environment, after all.

There’s more! I worked in an industry that was known for its takeover attempts – petroleum. I recall some companies using a “scorched earth” strategy to avoid a takeover. That means the takeover target tried to make themselves look so bad that no one wanted them. How? Usually a lot of debt that dissuades suitors.

The trouble with a scorched earth strategy is that it hurts customers. High-paid employees keep their jobs, though.

Is Santee Cooper scorching its earth with debt, lack of renewable progress, restrictive legal settlements?

The image of reform does not have to last long – just until those pesky policymakers leave the company alone. What happens in the long term with customers is a losing proposition if there is a scorched earth strategy. Supporting free enterprise only counts when there is no vote.

Well, duh.