Lawmakers review possible options for Santee Cooper

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- South Carolina lawmakers have been working to resolve issues stemming from a failed nuclear plant outside of the midlands for the past few years.

So far lawmakers have been able to address one half of the puzzle, which was selling SCE&G to Dominion Energy. Now lawmakers are trying to figure out what to do with the other half; Santee Cooper, the state owned utility company.

As part of the General Assembly’s attempt to find the best option to deal with the company that is billions of dollars in debt, the state Department of Administration was tasked with evaluating the situations for the utility company.

“We’ve got to get this right. this is going to have lasting ramifications for decades to come,” said Representative Russell Ott.

Representetive Ott is one of many lawmakers anxious to resolve Santee Cooper’s debt.

The state owned utility company is $3.7 billion dollars in debt after putting up 45% of the investment into the failed V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant. Lawmakers have spent the last two years looking for a resolution.

Because of Santee Cooper’s impact in the state, the decision making process has been strenuous.

Representative Ott added, “Santee Cooper is huge for economic development. They play huge role in the lakes; Lake Marion, Lake Moultrie and recreational opportunities.”

Mike Couick is the CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. “Cooperatives are in all 46 counties. we cover 70% of the state’s land mass. Roughly over a million and half residents get their power from one of the state’s electric cooperatives,” explained Couick, highlighting the impact of any decision made regarding Santee Cooper.

The state owned utility company plays a behind the scenes role for hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians providing electricity to the cooperatives.

Couick added, “All coops across the state receive about 75% of their electricity ultimately from Santee Cooper.”

A report recently released by the SC Department of Administration outlines the best options for the state; in the case of a sale, a management deal, or restructuring the company.

“We received that report from DOA last week, it includes best option for sale from a Florida based company Next Era. We have the management offer from Dominion Energy itself, and we have the reform option from Santee Cooper,” continued Ott.

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee now have 30 days to review the report. At the end of that period, the committees will have to present a recommendation to the General Assembly.

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