South Carolina lawmakers are getting ready for the upcoming legislative session and while there are many pressing issues to discuss, Santee Cooper, in particular, has lawmakers most concerned.
The state-owned utility has been the subject of much controversy, due in large part to their failed V.C. Summer project and increasing debt. Now, many are calling for the privatization of Santee Cooper as a way to save customers from having to pay the billions of dollars of debt through increased utility rates.
While Santee Cooper customers have long awaited the fate of the utility to be decided, lawmakers will finally make a decision in the upcoming session after reviewing recommendations in January. It’s a decision that worries some lawmakers.
Beaufort County Republican Senator Tom Davis told the Charleston City Paper that “The most significant (issue), that is the most complex, is whether or not to sell Santee Cooper, whether to have a management team come in or an alternative to that is to enact some reforms. The implications of what we do will have an effect for decades to come.”
However, a recent report from the South Carolina Club For Growth, a network of South Carolinians that works to promote economic growth, shed light on why some lawmakers would want to see a Santee Cooper sale.
As of right now, Santee Cooper customers are the only ones paying for the around $7 Billion of debt from the failed VC Summer expansion and operational debt. Depending on the outcome of the next legislative session, customers could be on the hook for this debt over the next few decades.
Orangeburg Democratic Senator Brad Hutto told the Statehouse Report that Santee Cooper is “a big deal” and that it’s “probably the thing that has the biggest potential of long-term consequences for the state.”
However, with other high-priority issues such as education, lawmakers and South Carolina residents don’t want to see Santee Cooper take up a lot of the upcoming legislative session. One Surfside Beach resident wrote to The State saying, “Frankly, however, too much time has been spent on Santee Cooper; thankfully, the Legislature has produced a process and a timeline for Santee Cooper and other interested parties to follow. It’s imperative that the timeline is followed. Any extension will only mean that even more legislative sessions will focus on Santee Cooper.”
Only time will tell how state legislators handle the situation, but whatever decision is made will certainly have implications for years to come.