A User’s Manual for the Santee Cooper Dashboard

A vehicle’s in-dash instrument cluster provides its driver with critical information. Here’s Palmetto Promise Institute’s assessment of critical information that all Santee Cooper customers – and all South Carolinians – should know about the state-owned utility.

  • Santee Cooper owes $14 billion in principal and interest not including revolving credit agreements, a majority of which is for new nuclear generation and transmission (V.C. Summer 2&3).[i]
  • That debt if paid on a daily basis is approximately $1,011,931.72.[ii]
  • If projected debt payments were paid on a daily basis since January 1, 2019, the amount left to pay as of today’s date would be in the range reflected on this “odometer.” [iii]
  • As a government-owned entity without shareholders, Santee Cooper customers, the “ratepayers,” are on the hook for the entire amount of this debt.

Dashboard Cluster Key

= Unlike other utilities, Santee Cooper is owned by the South Carolina state government. As a result, the agency is not subject to oversight by the Public Service Commission.


= According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal was responsible for 27.4% of U.S. electricity generation, natural gas and oil were responsible for 35.7% and renewables were responsible for 17.1%. Santee Cooper has reported in its Annual Report that it relies on coal for 46% of its generation, natural gas and oil for 21% of electricity generation and only 3% renewables. At 46%, Santee Cooper’s coal dependence in 2018 was up over 2017 (42%).


= The V.C. Summer nuclear project was anticipated to generate 2200 MW of electricity that will now never be produced, but which Santee Cooper customers are on the hook to pay for.


= Santee Cooper owes $14 billion in principal and interest, about half of which is for V.C. Summer debacle. Debt is calculated at more than $1 million per day.


= Historically, Santee Cooper has offered its customers competitive residential rates. That has changed in the past five years. According to the South Carolina State Energy Office, Santee Cooper residential rates are not the lowest in the state, and these rates will be increasing to account for V.C. Summer debt service. [iv]


= If things remain the same, Cooper customers will be paying off the V.C. Summer debt for the next 38 years, burdening multiple generations of South Carolinians.


= Santee Cooper has already increased rates to the tune of 15.2% (compounded) since 2012.[v]


= A PPI economic analysis estimates that rates will need to increase a minimum of another 13.7%[vi] to service the debt. Based on Santee Cooper rate projections, increases of 12.2% are needed.[vii] We expect PPI’s higher projections could prove more accurate over time.



[i] Source: Santee Cooper Investor Relations website: Debt Service Schedule December 31, 2018.

[ii] Aggregate debt (principal and interest) divided by 38 years (2019-2056 inclusive) divided by 365 days per year.

[iii] This figure is calculated based on numbers from the Santee Cooper Investor Relations website (December 31, 2018).

[iv] South Carolina Energy Office calculations based on U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

[v] 15.2% calculation based on rates announced in Santee Cooper news releases (2012 to present) compounded.

[vi] Santee Cooper Rate Increase Projections, 2018 Update, Palmetto Promise Institute.

[vii] Calculated from Santee Cooper slide presentation to Public Service Authority Evaluation & Recommendation Committee, September 5, 2018.