Feature Image: Post & Courier
South Carolina lawmakers headed back to the statehouse today for the first of a three-day special session to discuss topics such as the state budget and Santee Cooper.
The regular session ended May 9 with a compromised piece of legislation that would allow the Department of Administration to seek offers from potential buyers, potential outside managers, and Santee Cooper itself, and create a team of experts to review them with.
The bill is now in conference committee, which is comprised of three Senators and three House members, and while there are many considerations to keep in mind while lawmakers debate, one thing, in particular, is the role the state’s cooperatives play and their outstanding lawsuit against Santee Cooper and its $8 billion debt.
Santee Cooper generates most of the power for the coop’s 800,000 members, who are currently on the hook for the largest percentage of Santee Cooper’s total debt, $4 billion for V.C Summer unfinished nuclear plant and $4 billion in operating debt, plus interest expenses, estimated at $1 million per day. Central Electric and consumers are challenging Santee’s Cooper’s ability to recoup the nuclear debt cost from ratepayers in a class-action lawsuit and billions of dollars are at stake.
If the lawsuit results in Santee Cooper being able to charge the coops for this debt, coop customers would be responsible for paying back billions of dollars with no return. But, if the results are in favor of the cooperatives, Santee Cooper would have to file for bankruptcy which would eventually leave Santee Cooper unable to maintain operations or fulfill their obligations to debt-holders.
The local coops are hoping lawmakers keep this in mind when deciding on the new legislation. They want the decision to include a solution that resolves their lawsuit and involves transparency, a clean process, and a purchase offer that would eliminate the debt and lower rates.
SC Living reported the coops are not interested in a management agreement since it wouldn’t include a lawsuit settlement or resolve the massive debt and interest owed by Santee Cooper.
While we’re still a ways away from the final decision being made about Santee Cooper, over the next three days, we should know whether or not the Department of Administration will be able to start seeking and reviewing offers.
Read the full coop piece at SC Living.