South Carolina Senator Larry Grooms says there are too many unanswered questions and rushing to sell could cost ratepayers and taxpayers more in the end.
Proponents of the sale of the state-owned utility say Santee Cooper is not sustainable in its current form. That current form is $8B in debt, half of that from the failed nuclear project.
Governor Henry McMaster is among those who say the answer is to sell.
“It’s clear to me and a lot of others that Santee Cooper as a system, as an entity cannot work its way out of this debt and to keep the rates from going up, which is what’s going to happen if we keep going like we’re going,” said McMaster.
It’s not so clear to Grooms. He said it’s not only sustainable, but he says rate increases would be far less than what any of the other companies would be able to offer.
“If Santee Cooper is sold rates could go up 22 percent, vs seven percent that Santee Cooper is planning,” said Grooms.
Grooms wants answers to questions he feels are vital to making an informed decision.
1. What happens to the 1600+ employees?
2. What happens to their retirement plans?
3. What happens to Lake Moultrie, and Lake Marion and the other Santee Cooper properties?
The sale can’t go through without lawmakers approving a contract, but many of these answers won’t come until a contract is already done.
To Grooms, that’s not good enough for something that would impact everyone in our state.
“The South Carolina Department of Transportation network is the most valuable asset we have in our state, number two is Santee Cooper,” said Grooms. “There is a lot at stake here.”