This article was originally published by the The State on July 12, 2018.
Palmetto Promise Institute has led the call for a Santee Cooper study committee to begin a thoughtful and deliberate process to determine the future of our state-owned utility, so we applaud the General Assembly for taking definitive action to jump start this critical process.
Our research shows that Santee Cooper customers’ rates must increase from 14 percent in the best-case scenario, to as much as 45 percent (if Central Electric co-op’s lawsuit is successful) to pay down Santee Cooper’s $8.5 billion in V.C. Summer debt and interest. This means the average annual residential bill could increase between $195 and $647 per year for the next 38 years — on top of the 15 percent increase Santee customers have already swallowed since 2012.
This is more than double what an SCE&G customer will pay, because Santee Cooper has fewer customers and no equity stakeholders to absorb the blow. The entire burden of Santee Cooper’s share of this $9 billion hole in the ground will be passed on to the customers, unless the General Assembly acts.
Much necessary time has been spent examining SCANA’s role in this fiasco: the what, why, when and who of what happened. Now, this new committee needs to be quickly appointed so members can get to work on charting the course for Santee Cooper’s future. The wallets of Santee Cooper customers and S.C. taxpayers hang in the balance.