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Lawmakers weigh in on future of state-owned utility Santee Cooper

COLUMBIA,SC - A federal judge rules in favor of South Carolina utility customers and as a result SCANA customers are already starting to see a lower electricity bill.
 
The decision comes 2 weeks after a 2-day hearing to decide whether or not utility company SCANA could block the rate reduction passed by the General Assembly earlier this summer.
 
The legislation reduces SCANA customers' bills by 15%. Those same customers have been paying an extra 18% to pay for a failed nuclear plant.
 
That nuclear plant costs SCANA billions of dollars, but SCANA wasn't the only company involved in the proposed plants that never went into operation.
 
State-owner utility company Santee Cooper put up 45% of the costs for the nuclear plants and is now facing serious debt.
 
A small group of lawmakers met Tuesday to talk about the future of Santee Cooper, which includes whether or not to sell the company.
 
Representative Russell Ott from Calhoun County is a member of the special joint committee. He explained why selling the company is even a proposal. "They're essentially a not for profit. Their costs, they recoup their costs by selling their electricity ,and they've incurred so much debt now from the vc summer nuclear plant and that's going to have to paid back some way."
 
Lawmakers say Santee Cooper customers would pay an extra 8% for 40 years to pay off the debt. But finding the best solution for the company will also take some time.
 
Senator Larry Grooms of Berkeley County explained why the process to make a decision won't be so easy.
 
"Before you can sell your house you have an appraisal and I don't know if we're capable with just ourselves to draft an appraisal and I don't know how long it will take to get an appraisal on something like Santee Cooper."
 
The sale of the company doesn't just effect its ratepayers, it will also effect taxpayers.
 
"It's not just a utility. Santee Cooper owns Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, Santee Cooper lakes. Santee Cooper has asset in buildings and land all across the state and thousand of jobs," explained Ott.
 
Lawmakers want to bring in a third-party to help with teh analysis of Santee Cooper and the impact of its sale.
 
Committee members are hoping to have a game plan to present for the General Assembly when session starts in January.
 
Santee Cooper wants lost more than $5 billion in failed nuclear plant. It also provides electricity for several co-ops in the state.
 

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