Feautred Image: Santee Cooper’s Cross Plant, Post and Courier.
The State of South Carolina is one step closer to discovering what’s in store for the future of Santee Cooper.
Last Friday, ICF International, the Virginia-based consulting firm appointed to review all bids for purchasing Santee Cooper, finished reviewing all submitted proposals and sent their evaluations to the House-Senate special committee currently reviewing the potential sale of the state-owned utility.
In the forty-page report, ICF revealed there is a strong market interest in purchasing Santee Cooper and some of the bids will prevent ratepayers from having to pay the V.C. Summer debt and keep rates low.
ICF reported that they received fifteen different proposals from ten parties. Of those proposals, four were for full offers to purchase the state-owned utility and pay off or provide defeasance of Santee Cooper’s over $8 billion debt, while others’ offers proposed only purchasing parts or taking over its management.
The four full purchase proposals would result in lowered average customer electricity rates over 20 years compared to the projected increased Santee Cooper rates over the same length of time. Three of the four proposals pay off the debt with no request to recover the costs, while the fourth fully assumes the debt.
ICF’s report lays out how a utility company would be able to purchase Santee Cooper, pay off the debt, and charge lower rates for Santee Cooper’s two million direct serve and co-op customers, which goes against some South Carolina Senators’ initial thoughts that finding a buyer that could eliminate the debt and lower rates would be impossible.
House Speaker Jay Lucas and Governor Henry McMaster are enthusiastic about this possibility.
As quoted by The State, Lucas expressed his thoughts on the report stating, “An initial review of the report confirms my goal of providing maximum relief for the ratepayers in this process.”
Both feel that now is the right time to take action. “This is a historic moment,” McMaster said in a statement to The State. He continued by insisting there was no reason to delay action and pleaded for the General Assembly to review the report and put South Carolina ratepayers and taxpayers first.
Despite the push from many to make a decision, the state Senate is continuing to drag its feet.
The next step is for ICF to present its findings to the special legislative committee on today, Wednesday, February 6, 2019. From there, the committee will then prepare final recommendations to present to the General Assembly.
For more information visit Energy Consumer of the Carolinas.