The SC Senate has thought about retaining state ownership of Santee Cooper but changing where it reports in the state. Changing an organizational structure does not change accountability. Office of Regulatory Staff oversight only adds another level to avoid real accountability. It doesn’t solve the Santee Cooper problem, it just covers it up with more red tape.

What is needed is capable utility management who has skin in the game. Let me tell you what that means.

When Jim Rogers became CEO of Duke Energy years ago when the company needed big change, his salary was zero. He said that his pay would be based on performance as shown in the stock price. If the company did not perform, he did not get paid.

That is, “Having skin in the game.”

I saw this at a company I worked at years ago that had to improve its safety performance. The CEO decided that more than a third of salary for managers would be based on tough safety metrics. Safety improved as managers had more skin in the game.

Who has skin in the game for Santee Cooper debt and performance? If the company does well the management gets it paychecks. If the company does not do well the management gets its paychecks.

Sweet deal.

Even with a public power entity a compensation package can be created to make management have real skin in the game.

Customers have skin in the game because they owe the money committed by the management of Santee Cooper. Managers get their paychecks no matter how much customers pay.

In everyday terms, if Santee Cooper does not resolve its debt, customers pay. If the company pays off its debt over decades, customers pay. Heads, they lose. Tails, they lose.

Incentive. It is about incentive. Skin in the game. Make it real for the people who are charged to change the broken culture of Santee Cooper.