A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon it adds up to real money. ECC noted that quote about the debt burden from the termination of the VC Summer nuclear project.

It’s been “real money” since at least 2017 when the nuclear project shut down.

Billions of debt committed by Santee Cooper is actually carried by its customers – everyday folks – which makes a particular impression. Billions in debt on a modest base of people until the 2030s or 40s.

Add to that the issues of a Santee Cooper wind study that produced no significant wind output, and the coal plant kit from China that sits in pieces (aside from the point that coal is a fuel that is declining, so why was the plant ordered?).

Jumbo checks – customer money – are pictured in media, handed out as grants by Santee Cooper, even after incurring debt on the backs of families in its service territory.

This is done while other utilities emphasize the rigorous planning and execution of updating the system, improving customer interfaces, hardening the grid, and keeping current with technology. Being competitive on a real-time basis.

Or, for that matter, other utilities successfully maintain lake licenses while Santee Cooper goes with an indefinite year-to-year, incomplete license renewal since 2006. Which is the more accountable steward?

Does this seem logical? Debt. Money spent for no added electricity. No bench developed internally to lead the company. Inability to follow-through, to finish a job.

  • Customers can ask for accountability, for a relief from the debt not 20 years after it has compounded more interest, but now.
  • Customers can ask for studies and capital commitments that produce power, efficiency, reliability.
  • Customers can ask about initiatives that keep the grid up to date.
  • Customers can ask for a deeper bench strength of talent to maintain a utility that is a safety and health necessity, not just a convenience.

Customers can ask. So could the board of Santee Cooper. So can the elected representatives of the state.

2019 may have been the start of that final accounting, of logic. Will there be follow-through to de-commit, to protect, the customers’ financial resources from their debt burden, align the state with the real functions of a state government, and provide a rigorous oversight of an important electric utility?