“Business Approach” to Santee Cooper is Back in Play

April 20, 2021

Palmetto Promise Team

Palmetto Promise has long advocated for a business approach to state-owned utility Santee Cooper. From early calls for “independent, expert analysis to more recent calls to resume the bidding process, our consistent drumbeat over the years has been to use sophisticated analysis, not politics to find the best possible solution to address the debt for ratepayers and taxpayers.  

Just a few weeks ago, Palmetto Promise’s Founding Chairman Jim DeMint called for getting South Carolina back to the negotiating table in The Greenville News 

“A fair-minded reading of Santee Cooper’s balance sheet practically shouts the story: No rejiggering of debt or misplaced nostalgia for the old days will alleviate the $6.8 billion mountain of debt from the backs of ratepayers. The world has simply passed Santee Cooper’s outdated business model by. It has been over a year since the opening bid for Santee Cooper was submitted. It is time to drive a hard bargain and sell, for the long-term financial benefit of our state.   

Perhaps 2021 is the year the General Assembly will finally take a business approach —rather than a political approach — to Santee Cooper. For the sake of beleaguered ratepayers (and taxpayers), I hope we are back at the negotiating table soon.”  

Now it seems that South Carolina may be doing just that.  

Florida-based utility NextEra, which was one of the companies to submit bids this time last year, has written a letter to Senate President Harvey Peeler expressing willingness to submit a revised offer. This came almost immediately following Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey’s calls for revised offers on the floor of the SC Senate: “If there are prospective buyers who would like to make an updated offer, based on how the world has changed, I would encourage them to do that. I would encourage them to do that very soon.”  

We hope this recent development is the beginning of an embrace of that business approach we have been advocating. Using analysis rather than backroom deals is the only way to achieve the best deal for ratepayers as they continue to bear the brunt of Santee Cooper’s $7 billion debt.