On Thursday, Mike Couick, the CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, told the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee that his group would consider buying Santee Cooper.
The Electric Co-op of South Carolina is the largest electric distribution system in the state – and Santee Cooper’s largest customer. The group is comprised of 20 different electric co-ops that provide electricity to more than 1.5 million South Carolinians in all 46 counties.
Right now, Couick says there is a lack of consensus among the 20 co-ops about a sale of Santee Cooper.
The Electric Co-op of South Carolina has a contract to buy power from Santee Cooper until 2058. The contract is worth about $50 billion, and may be Santee Cooper’s single largest asset.
Couick is urging legislators to review a list of Santee Cooper’s assets and determine if any of them would be off the table in a potential sale.
Gov. Henry McMaster is among those supporting the sale of Santeee Cooper. The state-owned utility has $4.3 billion in debt from the failed expansion of the V.C. Summer nuclear facility. It also has $4 billion in other debt.
Without a deal, McMaster says the state’s electric cooperatives will be required to pay 70-percent of the debt over the next 30 years. The Governor says he will not sign any deal that saddles taxpayers or Santee Cooper’s customers with debt.