Lawmakers want more options for Santee Cooper; new law requests additional proposals

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — SCE&G customers are already seeing changes from the Dominion Energy takeover. The utility company was billions of dollars in debt after investing in a nuclear plant. Now lawmakers are trying to figure out what to do with the other piece of the puzzle; Santee Cooper.

The state-owned utility company put up almost half of the costs for the nuclear plant investment.

Santee cooper has more than $7 billion of debt after putting up 45% of the costs for the VC Summer Nuclear Plant.

In February, the state narrowed down potential bids to buy the company, but several lawmakers felt they needed more information before agreeing to the sale.

Representative Micah Caskey signed onto a bill requiring the state to weigh more options.

“What we’ve done is say let’s look at the deliberately let’s bring in experts to determine what it’s worth, if it’s sold what should it be sold for, or having someone come in and manage it or of course leave it as it is with some minor tweaks.”

The new law requires the Department of Administration to determine the best proposal for purchase, management, or reform.

Electric cooperatives in the state will feel the impact of Santee Cooper’s future whatever it may be.

Mike Couick, the president of Electric Cooperatives of SC, explained the relationship between the state’s coops and Santee Cooper.

“Santee Cooper has sold and is a wholesale provider of electricity to the cooperatives since the 1950. Currently, it provides a third of the electricity for all 20 coops in South Carolina,” said Couick.

More than 50% of Santee Cooper’s power is bought by the state’s cooperatives so if a new owner or manager increases costs prices could also go up for customers.

Rep Caskey continued, “Because of the way this has evolved all of our electric cooperatives are buying power from Santee Cooper. So if you’re an electric cooperative customer your bill is going to be determined by what happens with Santee Cooper.”

The department of administration will decide which proposal is best in each of the three areas (purchase, manage, or reform). The legislation requires that one final bid to be received by January 15, 2020.

There are about 1. 5 million cooperative customers in the state.

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