BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Santee Cooper is responding to Goose Creek City Council’s decision to move forward with a referendum regarding the possibility of starting their own electric company.

The state-owned utility, which is based in Berkeley County, said they believe what is being proposed by Goose Creek is illegal.

They said a similar 2004 annexation case involving SCE&G vs. the Town of Awendaw shows the illegality.

“There is actually case law that states that any annexation to a current or new municipality cannot oust or evict a current utility,” said Nicole Aiello, Director of Public Relations for Santee Cooper. “So, by case law, we believe it’s unlawful.”

Goose Creek City Council approved a referendum Tuesday night that will be on the ballot December 3rd. It will ask voters if they want to begin operating an electric utility to serve Century Aluminum and to approve annexation of the 5,000 acres of Century property.

Century’s contract with Santee Cooper ends at the end of 2020.

However, Santee Cooper said they have rights by statute to serve that account and are not dependent on the contract. They say another issue is Goose Creek does not own the substation and transmission lines at the property.

“Right now, the city doesn’t own any facilities. Those are all Santee Cooper facilities and, you know, they just have to figure out how to serve without having any facilities or any lines,” said Aiello.

Santee Cooper officials are now investigating what steps they may take in the future.