Santee Cooper has credibility issues
Time after time Santee Cooper has credibility issues. One of the latest involves a secret effort by Santee Cooper executives to undermine its sale by entering into negotiations with another utility in violation of the bidding rules established by the legislature in seeking a buyer for the debt-ridden utility.
The failed V.C. Summer nuclear reactor project that left Santee Cooper and electric co-op customers on the hook for a $4 billion hole in the ground involved deception by Santee Cooper leaders. For 18 months they kept secret from legislators, the governor, bondholders and customers a bombshell report that essentially said the project was not viable.
This deception is being investigated by the FBI and is the subject of a civil lawsuit by bondholders.
Santee Cooper has been repeatedly stating that its rates will only increase by 7 percent to start paying back its enormous $7 billion debt. However, before a Senate committee this year Santee Cooper executives had to confess that rates would actually increase by at least 15 percent.
Now Santee Cooper says no rate increases for five years. Sounds like one of those too-good-to-be-true used car ads where the customer always ends up paying much more because of interest charges.
Santee Cooper is just not believable. Customers are still on the hook for the debt. It’s just more smoke and mirrors.
Read with interest the proposed city council’s regulation of solar panels. They will pay 4.5 cents per KWh sold back to the city utility and the city utility will sell to other customers for almost 12 cents per KWh.
Ever worse they will charge the solar panel owner $50 because the monthly bill must be calculated manually. You would have to sell back over 1100 KWh monthly just to break even. Are they paying a $20 per hour clerk 2.5 hours to calculate a bill?
1100 KWh is more than many peoples total monthly bill. BTW there will be a $100 application fee to start the process. Don’t expect to see many solar panels in Georgetown.
As a bit of an animal lover, I have been scouring the Internet for some special occasion celebrating animals. I came across an international observance called a “day for animals,” but it wasn’t quite what I expected.
I was shocked to learn that nearly 99 percent of all domesticated animals are bred and raised for food. That, unlike our cats and dogs, they get no compassion or respect from the meat and dairy industries.
Male baby chicks are suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground up alive because they lay no eggs. Groups of laying hens are packed into small wire cages that tear out their feathers. Breeding sows spend their entire lives pregnant in metal cages. Dairy cows are artificially impregnated each year, and their babies are snatched from them at birth, so people can drink their milk.
Like many others, I always thought of cows, pigs, and chickens as simply “food on the hoof.” Now, I realize that each dollar I spend on meat and dairy products at the checkout counter subsidizes animal atrocities. I will be replacing animal products in my diet with the new healthful, cruelty-free plant-based meats and dairy items offered by my supermarket.
Big Plans, Little Follow Through
Santee Cooper unveiled their “business forecast” at their board meeting a couple of weeks ago. On its face the plan looks as though Santee Cooper will be making great strides in using more sustainable energy to power homes and businesses here in South Carolina.
Their strategy includes increasing solar capacity by 500 percent and adding 100 megawatts of power from a turbine to be fueled by natural gas.
These are all noble pursuits, which our region so desperately needs.
But when you take a closer look at what Santee Cooper plans on doing you have to take a step back and simply ask, “How?”
How can we trust this state agency to do what they say they will do? Santee Cooper’s long history of making big promises with little to no follow through doesn’t give us much hope.
How will it be possible to make these necessary improvements when it has over $7 billion in debt?
How are they going to update to solar and natural gas when there is no infrastructure to make it happen doesn’t exist?
How are they going to accomplish their sustainability goals and get out of debt at the same time without raising rates again?
One day I hope our region comes to rely on sustainable energy options. Unfortunately, history has taught us we can’t rely on Santee Cooper to give us those options.