Lawmakers review bids to buy Santee Cooper; customers advocate for renewable energy

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Before the start of the new year, a special legislative committee voted to consider selling state owned utility company Santee Cooper. The small group of lawmakers agreed to start receiving bids for the possible sale of the company and so far, several bids have already been proposed to take over the company. 

The state is trying to sell Santee Cooper because the state owned utility company owes billions of dollars after teaming up with another energy company to invest in a nuclear plant.

Criteria for potential buyers include at least 5 years of experience running a utility company and committment to taking on the company’s debt.

The state is looking to sell santee cooper for a price between $7 billion and $10 billion dollars.

So far the state has received several offers including many that would lower rates for Santee Cooper customers and cooperative customers who get their power through a third party energy supplier.

But customers say they want a company that is going to help move energy intiatives forward here in the state.

Alan Hancock with the Coastal Conservation League expressed the desire for more renewable sources. 

“If it’s sold. We would want the buyer, the bidder to focus on those long term generational mixes. So we can back away from the dirty coal plants in our coastal plain and focus more on solar and renewable energy,” said Hancock.

An advocacy group from the upstate of South Carolina echoed those sentiments. 

“What they do with the generation needs for santee cooper? Do they go more towards renewable or do they stick with the same ol thing, do they go more towards natural gas?” added Shelley Robbins with Upstate Forever.

In total, the state received 15 proposals from 10 different organizations. Some offers including buying all of Santee Cooper others just buying assets of the company.

Ultimately the buyer pool was narrowed down to 4 proposals. The state has set an acquisition date for December 2019. 

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