Thursday, the South Carolina Senate made significant progress on the Santee Cooper issue. A Joint Resolution, H.4287, passed by a vote of 42-1. It now goes back to the South Carolina House of Representatives.
That legislation directs the state Department of Administration to secure financial and legal expertise to receive and vet three different types of offers: a purchase of Santee Cooper, a management of Santee Cooper and a reform of Santee Cooper (this latter proposal would be prepared and submitted by Santee Cooper itself).
This result, if not the specific process, is nearly exactly what we called for on March 20, 2018, in our study Santee Cooper’s Uncertain Future: independent, expert analysis to properly vet what could be the largest financial transaction in our state’s history.
For years, Santee Cooper ratepayers have seen their utility bills increase to pay for construction of two nuclear reactors that will never exist. If nothing is done, each household will have to pay thousands of dollars for electricity they’ll never receive.
There is still a long road ahead with many potential obstacles, but with the Senate’s recent action, the path toward providing relief for Santee Cooper and electric co-op ratepayers is as clear as it has ever been.
Several key questions were raised in the Senate’s two week debate on the resolution. Perhaps the most pressing: Is it possibly for a private company to buy Santee Cooper, pay for the $7.2 billion mountain of debt, and still lower rates for customers? In our new analysis Dr. Oran Smith lays out the answer.
This week marked a momentous milestone on a long journey. Thank you for your help with our efforts. We will have more to report very soon.