Lawmakers say power bills will go up with sale of Santee Cooper

MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - On Monday, state lawmakers met with Moncks Corner residents to discuss the ongoing bill by legislation to sell Santee Cooper.

Discussions about selling the public utility service has been on going within the State House.

Santee Cooper has over $8 billion in debt due to the failed nuclear project.

Last week, South Carolina Sen. Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) introduced a joint resolution that would allow Gov. Henry McMaster to sell Santee Cooper.

The resolution says that the governor will use the Department of Administration to conduct a competitive bidding process of the utility’s sale.

The state has received four proposals for buying Santee Cooper’s assets. Several of them are proposing to take the utility’s total debt from customers and begin lowering rates. But lawmakers representing Berkeley County say they don’t have details as to how this would lower rates.

Many people at the town meeting were concerned about the future for Santee Cooper employees and what would happen to their electric bills.

State Sen. Lawrence Grooms said, “Rates will go up 15% if Santee Cooper is sold and becomes an investor owned utility. We also know in the report that there would be job losses of at least 500, possibly all the way up close to a thousand."

Many people in the room were concerned about that along with the unknowns about what would happen to the lakes, and that’s something lawmakers are saying they simply don’t know.

On Tuesday, the House will discussing House Bill 4287 that would keep the bidding and sales decision in the lawmakers’ hands.

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