Proposed Santee Cooper rate increases dividing community

Proposed Santee Cooper rate increases dividing community

WPDE-TV
April 9, 2019

by Nicholas Papantonis

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) — From day one, it’s been a nuclear nightmare for South Carolina leaders.

A failed nuclear plant project has placed the state-owned utility billions of dollars in debt, which has led politicians to warn constituents about rate hikes.
As the increases– totaling about 7% between 2021 and 2024– come closer to happening, the lines are starting to be drawn.

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce has allied itself with one side, led by Governor Henry McMaster, calling for Santee Cooper to be sold.

“If we don’t change Santee Cooper’s plans to increase rates to pay for the nuclear debt, rate payers will pay an additional nine billion dollars over the next 30 years or so,” one SCSBC official said during a meeting Monday afternoon.

But many at the meeting stood in opposition to that position, calling for the utility to be saved.

They pointed to the jobs it has created, and said rate increases would only put it in line with other utilities in the state.

A Santee Cooper official said it would still have one of the lowest rates in the region after the hikes take hold. The utility published a press release Monday backing up that statement.

Earlier this year, multiple companies made offers to buy Santee Cooper and pay down the company’s debt.

The other company involved in the nuclear project, South Carolina Electric & Gas, was sold to Dominion Energy earlier this year.

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