From Scott Carlberg

“This time it’s different.” You have heard people say it, typically when something goes wrong and they are going to try again, the same way. The phrase has made people stay the course when their actions failed. They do precisely the same thing but expect a different result.

ECC believes it applies to the ownership of Santee Cooper.

A little history about the phrase. “This time it’s different,” springs from finance and investing when someone loses money, but the investor tries it all again anyway. The phrase and its logic drive people to make the same bad decisions repeatedly but expect profit anyway.

“This time it’s different,” have been called the four most expensive words in the English language because they travel paths that don’t work. Double down on money spent, burn even more time, lose credibility. The mindset drives the same mistakes. Continues status quo thinking.

“Please! This time be different.”

The words block new paths of success. New ideas, clear actions, even bold ideas, are essential after a failure.

While the past can’t be changed, its effects can be managed. “The steps behind you were already taken, and the steps to come are potential waiting to happen. Bring the fullness of this moment into that future,” said one business expert (Inc. magazine) Put change in the sights, then. “Steps. It’s all about steps.”

After a failure, wise leaders look ahead, and do not insulate themselves. They branch out, get good help and advice. They take the right steps. “It’s all about steps.”

How does this relate to the state’s choice about Santee Cooper?

A choice: Sell Santee Cooper to one of the highly qualified utilities that submitted an expression of interest. These are companies with deep knowledge and broad technical experience for Santee Cooper.

With a study in place, good bet.

A choice: Outsource Santee Cooper management and retain state ownership of the utility. For all purposes that has been the status quo for years; already the case when the path to debt was traveled. This time will it be different? Several months ago, a member of the South Carolina General said of the Santee Cooper situation: We took our eye off the ball.

Correct. Been there, done it.

The consultants who evaluated the expressions of interest in Santee Cooper called a buyout attractive. Highly qualified, financially sound people are out there and can account for the billions in debt. And, interested because they understand South Carolina.

As customer debt goes up $1 million a day, this is not a time to run away from the carrot and toward the stick.

South Carolina’s Public Service Authority Evaluation Committee can recommend to the General Assembly to sell Santee Cooper to a smart and highly qualified buyer … to make change happen. Acting wisely on behalf of consumers (voters, many of them), the committee can toss aside “This time it’s different” thinking. There is potential waiting to happen.