Santee Cooper President Says He “Gave Up” on Westinghouse in 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)- Retiring Santee Cooper President Lonnie Carter said he knew he was at his wits end with Westinghouse three years ago.
“I gave up on them in ’14,” began Carter. “I would tell our team, these guys would tell us stuff and you couldn’t rely on them. So you only need to believe what they physically present.”
That revelation had lawmakers feeling left in the dark. “So as a state-owned utility, you don’t think you had a responsibility to come to the legislature, the governor, or somebody and say ‘we’ve got a problem, we need help’ instead of just passing along rate increases. Or ‘we don’t need the power’?” said Lexington senator Nikki Setzler.
Carter says that information was passed along to Santee Cooper’s board. As for rate increases, executives said they raised bills nine times totaling to an overall 20 percent increase since the project’s inception.
While they do not anticipate bills to go up any higher, decreasing the rates sound unlikely as well.
“The portion of their bill that is being paid for those carrying costs will go away, that doesn’t necessarily mean their bill will go down because at the same time that cost is coming down, we’re spending $500 million a year for improvements to the system that are not nuclear related,” said SCANA Chief Executive Officer Kevin Marsh.
Santee Cooper and SCANA said a combined total of $6.3 billion dollars is needed to complete the project.
A cost Santee Cooper said is too high but leaving some lawmakers to question if any would want to buy the company under it’s current state. Carter saidthat move would not benefit consumers.
“I don’t believe they would under any scenario I’ve seen where they would be better off. But if one is presented, I would say the legislature who is the authorized body to sell it would consider that,” said Carter.