Grassroots group hoping to stop potential sale of Santee Cooper

Grassroots group hoping to stop potential sale of Santee Cooper

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Glenn Stephens retired last June after working for Santee Cooper for 35 years.

He is now a part of the grassroots effort to pump the brakes on a potential sale of the only state-owned public utility.

The Friends of Santee Cooper says the potential sale of Santee Cooper worries them. “You would see some laxing of rates in the beginning. But a company is not going to invest $7.2 billion without the thought of getting their money in return,” Stephens said.

A good chunk of Santee Cooper’s $7.2 billion is from the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project, about $4 billion.

According to Santee Cooper, currently offers customers the lowest typical 1,000-kWh/month residential bill among major utilities serving South Carolina.

According to the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, these are the monthly residential bills for 1,000 kWh for other power suppliers:

  • Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) - $117.74
  • Duke Energy Progress (DEP) - $125.43
  • Dominion/SCE&G - $124.91

Santee Cooper said they are planning on raising rates in 2021. Some lawmakers and Friends of Santee Cooper say a sale would lead to higher rates in the long term.

They said on top of these higher rates, retirees could be negatively impacted by a sale. “From a retiree standpoint, there’s the benefits. The big benefit is health insurance. It’s going to triple or quadruple in the price for retirees,” Stephens said.

Some lawmakers say they would like to have a decision by the end of the year. Governor Henry McMaster has openly supported the sale of Santee Cooper.

Friends of Santee Cooper said they would like to see reform instead. “The best case would be working with Southern Company or Dominion to do a joint dispatch to share some resources and to have more efficient operations.”

Santee Cooper has 1,650 full-time employees.

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