Chamber challenges Santee Cooper’s secret reports

Lexington County Chronicle
July 14, 2020

By Jerry Bellune

What is debt-burdened Santee Cooper telling state regulators?

That’s what the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce wants to know.

Because the taxpayer-owned utility is $6.8 billion in debt, the state may sell it.

Chamber CEO Frank Knapp has sent a Freedom of Information Act request to Santee Cooper.

He wants the utility to reveal what it is telling the SC Office of Regulatory Staff under a new state law.

ORS has the responsibility of assessing Santee Cooper’s compliance with the law’s prohibitions on activities while lawmakers consider its sale.

ORS questions Santee Cooper monthly, and the utility has 14 days to respond.

ORS Director Nanette Edwards said her agency is reviewing the July 1 submission.

“We will review so that what is truly confidential can retain its legal protections, and what isn’t will be made available to the public.”

Knapp said, “The utility might have marked some of the responses as confidential.

“If this is the case, it is unfortunate there will be a continued lack of transparency from Santee Cooper.”

Knapp said that “requires us to request the utility provide the responses to us and the public in a redacted, digital form.”

The chamber wants the state to sell Santee Cooper to an investor-owned utility to:

  1. Reduce electricity rates for customers beyond what Santee Cooper has committed to in an upcoming lawsuit settlement.2. Eliminate most or all of the utility’s $6.8 billion debt, much of it resulting from its failed nuclear project with SCANA.

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