The state Department of Administration recently selected four firms to explore options on the table for the debt-riddled, state-owned utility Santee Cooper. The firms, tasked with reviewing purchase and management offers and a reform proposal from Santee Cooper, will advise lawmakers as they work to decide the future of the utility.
On Friday, August 16, the Department of Administration took a step in the right direction and announced it is now inviting parties to submit bids for Santee Cooper. Moelis & Company, a New York-based investment firm, will advise the Department of Administration on the bids for Santee Cooper. The invitation can be viewed here.
On the same day, Santee Cooper approved a $5 million loan to Laurens Electric Cooperative through the economic development revolving loan program. This loan approval took place during an ongoing lawsuit between Santee Cooper and the co-ops over who is responsible to pay for the debt resulting from the failed V.C. Summer project continues.
The co-ops are suing to block Santee Cooper from charging its customers any more to pay off the $4+ billion of debt. The lawsuit would stop Santee Cooper from continuing to bill customers for the debt. Circuit Court Judge John Hayes ruled that the lawsuit would be allowed to continue on Friday.
In a 38-page claim, filed on Aug. 9, the co-ops presented a legal argument to show Santee Cooper actively kept information from its customers including construction setbacks and increased costs, in turn violating the contract and an attempt to make customers pay for a power plant that never produced electricity.