Feature Image: The State
State-Owned Electric Company Spends 2 Million on New CEO and Deputy CEO While Making No Promises Regarding Layoffs
Santee Cooper announced a new CEO on Monday, nearly two years since former CEO Lonnie Carter retired.
Carter who retired just weeks after the state-owned utility voted to pull the plug on its V.C. Summer project after spending $4 billion, is being replaced by Mark Bonsall. Bonsall comes from a background in public-owned electric entities, most recently serving as CEO for the Salt River Project (SRP) in Arizona. Santee Cooper is also bringing on one of Bonsall’s former deputies, Charlie Ducksworth, as the new Deputy CEO.
For his new duties as CEO, Bonsall is guaranteed at least $1.1 million a year over the next 18 months, plus at least $250,000 in performance bonuses. While this salary far exceeds the $541,000 Carter received annually during his tenure at the state-owned utility, Carter isn’t suffering. The former CEO received an $800,000 golden parachute upon his departure which customers are still playing for.
In addition to paying for the new CEO’s salary and the former CEO’s retirement package, customers are also paying for Duckworth’s $560,000 salary over the next 18 months and his $165,000 in bonus pay.
While the board feels Bonsall and Ducksworth’s experience will allow the company to reform from within, many feel increasing the CEO’s salary by such an amount is not a smart move for a company that is already in a concerning amount of debt.
Bonsall said he would make no promises about how many employees could be laid off as he works to reform the agency which is under increasing pressure from the state. The 2017 failure of the V.C. Summer project left the company with more than $4 billion of debt, on top of an already alarming $4 billion operating debt. While the company has paid off some of the debt, it still owes over $7 billion in debt, all of which falls onto the millions of electrical co-op and direct serve customers through increased rates.
And whether or not the new CEO is able to reform Santee Cooper, customers are still on the hook for billions of dollars in debt on top of paying for salaries of current and past employees, legal fees, and other expenses.