March 20, 2019
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – A South Carolina state senator has introduced a joint resolution that would allow the governor to sell Santee Cooper.
Sen. Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) introduced the resolution, S.678, that says Governor Henry McMaster will use the Department of Administration to conduct a competitive bidding process of the utility’s sale.
The joint resolution has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. Governor McMaster has tweeted about the legislation, calling it “clear and decisive leadership.”
“By introducing this legislation, President Peeler is showing clear and decisive leadership in response to a thoughtful, deliberate, and ongoing process to determine the value of Santee Cooper and the best way to protect South Carolina’s ratepayers,” the governor said in a series of tweets. “We’ve known all along that the one thing we can’t afford is inaction. This bold and necessary step moves us closer to the resolution of one of the state’s most pressing and impactful issues.”
State legislators and the governor have long desired to sell off the utility, and talked to a consultant in February to discuss bids. The proposals are all confidential. ICF says the 15 bids are to either purchase or manage Santee Cooper.
According to the consulting firm, three of the bids promised to eliminate all of Santee Cooper’s debt. They said rates will stop increasing at the same rate if the utility was not sold.
In December 2018, Governor McMaster and State Attorney General Alan Wilson have both written letters regarding money being used for the criminal defense of Santee Cooper’s top executives.
In addition, the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that it will hold six town halls across the state to engage the public on the issues of selling the utility.
“Santee Cooper’s future is one of the biggest financial issues that our state legislature has ever faced,” said Frank Knapp Jr., president/CEO of the SCSBCC. “The public needs to be informed about the issue. The approximately $4 billion of construction debt the state utility owes due to the abandoned nuclear construction project must not be passed onto the ratepayers directly or through our electric cooperatives.”
The State has received 4 proposals for buying Santee Cooper’s assets with several proposing to take the utility’s approximately $9 total debt from customers and begin lowering rates. The state legislature has two committees looking at options for addressing the financial debacle.
“Totally eliminating the $4 billion nuclear debt and over $4 billion of other bond debt on the utility’s ratepayers and transitioning the utility to renewable, less carbon-polluting generation is the goal that we believe can only be achieved by selling Santee Cooper.”
Town Halls and co-sponsors:
• Charleston April 2, 5-6PM Charleston County Library, 68 Calhoun St., Charleston, SC 843-805-6930 Co-sponsor: SC Coastal Conservation League
• Myrtle Beach April 8, 5-6PM Chapin Library, 400 14th Ave N., Myrtle Beach, SC 843-918-1275 Co-sponsor: The Horry Independent
• Orangeburg April 15, 5-6:30 PM Orangeburg County Library, 510 Louis St., Orangeburg, SC 803-531-4636 Co-sponsor: Palmetto Promise
• Rock Hill April 23, 5-6PM York County Library, 138 East Black St., Rock Hill, SC 803-981-5858
• Sumter April 29, 5-6:30PM Sumter County Library, 111 N Harvin St. Sumter, SC 803-773-7273
• Lexington May 1, 5:30-7PM Lexington County Library, 5440 Augusta Rd., Lexington, SC 803-785-2600 Co-sponsor: The Lexington County Chronicle