A research group finds a single solution to protect state taxpayers and Santee Cooper ratepayers.
Public watchdog Palmetto Promise says only selling Santee Cooper can reduce or end its enormous …
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Public watchdog Palmetto Promise says only selling Santee Cooper can reduce or end its enormous costs.
Palmetto Promise says a sale will allow a write-down of $4 billion in nuclear debt.
The findings’ authors, energy experts Oran Smith and Kathleen Grace, say taxpayer-owned Santee Cooper and its ratepayers face:
• An $8 billion mountain of nuclear and other debt even after millions of dollars paid in a Westinghouse Electric bankruptcy settlement.
The money came from Toshiba, the Japanese owners of Westinghouse which mismanaged a $9 billion nuclear project of which Santee Cooper owns 45%.
• A complicated federal and state legal mess with exposure to more millions needed to settle class-action lawsuit claims.
• Ability to produce electric power limited to aging coal-fired plants and a 33% ownership in Dominion Energy’s lone working nuclear plant in the state.
• Federal pressure to produce power without coal and generation costs well above market value.
• A balance sheet that shows it is technically if not fiscally insolvent.
That means it has more debt than the value of its assets, made possible only by its self-regulation outside the utility monopoly system.
Palmetto Promise says Santee Cooper proposed “questionable plans” which do not reduce the debt burden, will probably increase costs and spend ratepayer money at “alarming” rates.
Lawmakers are considering 3 options: sell, hire an outside manager or let Santee Cooper’s board solve its own problems.
Neither of these options will stop Santee Cooper from charging customers for $4 billion in nuclear debt.
Over time, that $4 billion could double as interest is charged to customers.
Other experts say selling Santee Cooper is necessary to deregulating energy in the state and reducing staggering ratepayer costs.
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