Last week the SC Department of Administration released their much-anticipated report of recommendations for the plans to purchase, reform or manage South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility – Santee Cooper. As one of the largest power providers in South Carolina, Santee Cooper directly serves more than 165,000 residential and commercial customers in Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry counties and was initially formed as part of the President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930’s. Lately, Santee Cooper was responsible for half of the largest nuclear fiasco in our state’s history at VC Summer in Fairfield County. Over 5,000 jobs were lost and Santee Cooper was left with billions in debt.
House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement regarding the SC Dept. of Administration report on Santee Cooper,
“Today, the General Assembly begins the process of debating the ultimate disposition of Santee Cooper. The results of months of work, led by Director Marcia Adams and the Department of Administration, have been released to the General Assembly and the public for consideration.
The House will be led by the facts contained in this document and will push for the solution that is the most advantageous to the ratepayers and taxpayers of this state. The goal of the House is to reach the most fiscally prudent disposition for Santee Cooper and to protect those whose dollars are at stake in this decision. The House remains committed to maintaining a thorough, comprehensive and transparent process on this matter. All decisions will be made in a set of extensive public hearings and after ample debate at every level. The actions taken in the coming weeks and months are of significant consequence, and we will not take them lightly. I am hopeful we can determine the best outcome that will protect our citizens as well as the momentum of our economy.”
In response to the report, the following Ad-Hoc Committee was appointed – Ways and Means Committee Chairman G. Murrell Smith, Jr., (Chm.), Rep. J. Gary Simrill, Rep. Jackie Hayes, Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, Rep. Alan D. Clemmons, Rep. Nathan Ballentine, Rep. J. Todd Rutherford, Rep. J. David Weeks, Rep. Bruce W. Bannister Rep. Joseph S. Daning.
“Even with our 30-day time constraint, and the budget process picking up in committee, I am confident this ad-hoc committee will work with diligence and vigilance,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Murrell Smith. “I look forward to leading the next step forward on this incredibly important issue.”
Representative Ballentine has experience building broad based policy coalitions including helping to form and lead the SC Energy Caucus just weeks after the VC Summer debacle in the summer of 2017. In a short time, Ballentine pulled together members from both parties and both legislative bodies to focus on solutions to our energy policy problems in the state. Rep. Ballentine strongly believes it is important for us to have more energy choices and competition.
“I am excited to be joining this important committee,” Rep. Ballentine said. “My goal has been and will continue to be whatever is in the best interest of the South Carolina taxpayer. We’ve started to give state ratepayers more choices, but frankly we need to do much more.”
A vote on Santee Cooper’s future in the SC legislature is expected before session ends this May.