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It’s been a few weeks since state-owned Santee Cooper unveiled their “long-term plan” for the future. Since then, many Santee Cooper direct serve and electric cooperative customers have been wondering, what does it all really mean?
While the plan involves positive initiatives like a transition to more renewable, cleaner energy sources such as solar and natural gas, there are no specifics to how those goals will be achieved.
Breaking down the plan even further, Santee Cooper customers and South Carolina residents have room for concern as it appears there are many unanswered questions.
In order to pay down the debt, the state-owned utility started raising rates a few years back. Now, with the debt in the spotlight more than ever, part of Santee Cooper’s plan is to freeze rates for five years. While this is promising at first glance, many Santee Cooper customers are worried that it will only prolong the inevitable.
Other than closing its Winyah coal plant by 2027 and cutting jobs (another concern for local residents) to reduce costs, the utility doesn’t specify how it plans to pay its billions of dollars of debt and make the investments needed to reach their goals.
Which begs the question – will rates increase even more than anticipated after the five-year freeze?
Additionally, the state-owned agency finds itself in a lawsuit with its largest customer, the twenty electric cooperatives, who is suing the energy provider to stop them from raising their customer’s rates even more to pay for a generating plant that will never operate.
A question that hasn’t been answered – what will happen if the cooperatives win? Will the debt fall only onto the direct serve customers? Will a state-owned agency have to file for bankruptcy?
Many questions and very few complete answers seem to plague Santee Cooper at present.