Featured Image: The State
Santee Cooper is, once again, catching heat for its reckless spending.
Recent reports obtained by the Post and Courier show that Santee Cooper has racked up $1.7 million in legal fees by covering the cost of attorney fees for eight current and former employees, executives, and board members.
This comes after recent concerns of the state-owned utility’s decision to hire a new CEO and Deputy CEO with a million dollar a year and $560,000 a year salary, respectively, while in billions of dollars of debt.
According to the Post and Courier, the legal costs can be traced back to late 2017 when the unfinished V.C. Summer plant was abandoned by the state-owned utility and continues to grow as of last month when the records were obtained.
Not included in the $1.7 million, are the funds being spent on attorneys to represent the utility itself.
While the records don’t show the exact work being performed, a spokeswoman for Santee Cooper told the Post and Courier, the costs were tied to civil lawsuits against the utility.
One of those lawsuits pits the state-owned utility against its largest customer, the electric cooperatives who purchase their power from Santee Cooper. In the lawsuit, the cooperatives claim Santee Cooper kept the problems of the V.C. Summer project hidden from them and are suing so their customers won’t be held responsible for paying off the debt. However, as of this week, South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal put the lawsuit on hold further delaying the outcome.
More recently, Dominion Energy attorneys sent a letter to the state-owned utility demanding Santee Cooper pay for a portion of Dominion’s costs for the failed V.C. Summer project. The letter referred to the agreement between SCE&G and Santee Cooper to build the abandoned reactors, a project Santee Cooper owned 45 percent of.
As Santee Cooper’s $4 billion debt continues to increase by around one million dollars a day, the utility finds itself owing even more money while continuing to spend causing the millions of direct-serve and cooperative customers throughout the state to worry about the future of utility rates.