Santee Cooper’s future still up in the air as COVID-19 forces lawmakers to take break from State House

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- South Carolina lawmakers were looking at different options for the future of Santee Cooper, including selling the company or bringing in a different management team. But now that lawmakers are taking a break it’s unclear what the future holds for the state owned utility company.

The state owned utility company is billions of dollars in debt after the company invested in the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant, which didn’t go online.

Lawmakers have since tried to determine the company’s future.

“There are three different options; sell Santee Cooper, not to sell it, or third to do some type of hybrid of a public-private partnership,” said Rep. Seth Rose of Richland County.

At last check, lawmakers were reviewing a proposal from a Florida based company to buy Santee Cooper, but the company wanted lawmakers to reform the legislation that put Santee Cooper in debt in the first place.

Lawmakers were supposed to use this year evaluate that option and review current law, but COVID-19 forced those conversations to halt.

Rep. Rose continued, “Obviously, the longer this lingers, the more the future of Santee Cooper is in doubt and there is a lot of money invested and tied up into, but it’s a decision that needs to be done right.”

Santee Cooper provides doesn’t just provide electricity to its customers it also supplies most of the power for many cooperatives in the state. The uncertainty of what happens with Santee Cooper will directly effect coop customers.Relief for some cooperatives is in the works but long term consequences are unclear.

Mike Couick, the CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, explained, “Your coops are Boad River, Blue Ridge and Laurens, al will all have a different approach of how they plan to implement the recent settlement, but what we anticipate is a 5 year rate freeze but coops are going to have to figure out how to work that into its budget.”

Lawmakers will be back at the State House in September; however, because of a sine die resolution passed in May, lawmakers will only be able to handle matters related to the 2020 budget and the state’s COVID-19 response.

Lawmakers anticipate continuing these conversations in January.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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