House Handles Santee Cooper Future, Passes Bill With Major Changes In Store
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– Taking away power from those on the board of Santee Cooper. The House made some important amendments Tuesday deciding the future for ratepayers and the oversight of the state-owned electric company. The House passed a bill taking away the jobs of those in charge of Santee Cooper, hoping to replace them with new blood.
The bill states the new board members are required to meet certain qualifications before being appointed by the governor. Then the Senate will have to confirm the governor’s appointees.
“This amendment will remove the current board of Santee Cooper. We simply cannot stand behind some of the decisions that have been made up until this point,” Rep. Russell Ott said, (D) representing Calhoun, Lexington, and Orangeburg counties.
The amendment also cuts the board term limits from seven years to four. Representative Ott said he hopes this will increase transparency. The house also voted to ensure the $895-million Santee Cooper received from Toshiba during the Nuclear plant fallout will go to a rate reduction and stabilization fund for Santee Cooper customers.
“A lot of people will say send the money back to the customers, that are already paid into the project. And that sounds good but that is very similar to another argument you’ve been hearing from other utilities that are offering to come in and send those rebates back. I’d love to get a thousand dollar check in the mail but what good is that check going to do me if I’m going to give it right back in the next four years, and then continue to be charged for a high rate for the next 16,” Ott said.
Ott says the fund will keep rates low, and if Santee Cooper does end up getting revenue from any type of sale, that money will go into that fund for their customers. The house also voted to create a committee made of members of the house, senate and executive branch that will oversee Santee Cooper to make sure nothing like this will ever happen again.
“We cannot put the blame on the people who work their tails off, who have spent their careers providing us power. And not only providing us power on days like today when it’s 75 and sunny outside. I’m talking about on the coast when hurricanes come through, or when tropical storms come through,” Rep. Peter McCoy said, (R) Charleston.
The creation of that committee created some waves. Some representatives want to be on it to ensure their counties are represented specifically because they are in the service area of Santee Cooper, but other representatives want it to be a statewide issue.