Santee Cooper’s largest customer, the electrical coops that buy three-fifths of Santee Cooper’s power which gets distributed to their customers across the state of South Carolina, is suing the state-owned utility. While the coops are by far the agency’s largest customer, a 38-page claim filed in August works to show that Santee Cooper actively kept the problems of the V.C. Summer construction hidden from the coops.
The project left Santee Cooper billions of dollars in debt. To pay off this debt, the burden falls onto both the state-owned utilities’ direct serve and co-op customers. The 20 co-ops who purchase power from the utility are suing to stop Santee Cooper from charging their customers any more for the debt.
The coops attorney in the case explained, “The emails, letters, etc.described above tell the indisputable story of a project beset almost from the beginning with myriad fundamental, entrenched problems that led inexorably to major delays and cost overruns,” the co-ops’ attorney, Frank Ellerbe, wrote in the filing. “Yet, it was a story Santee Cooper kept largely to itself.”
The coops claim to be powerless throughout the construction process of the nuclear reactors and in turn, should not be held responsible for the debt Santee Cooper faces for their failures. While success for the coops will save millions of customers from having to pay off the debt, there are still a lot of questions left unanswered.
If Santee Cooper is blocked from increasing the coop rates, what will happen to the debt and how will it be paid?