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Billions in debt on nuclear project, Santee Cooper's CEO getting multi-million retirement

Lonnie Carter, Santee Coooper (FILE)

The retiring chief executive of South Carolina's state-owned utility will be paid more than $1 million in the first year of his retirement.

Documents provided Friday by Santee Cooper show CEO Lonnie Carter will also leave with nearly $859,000 in a 401K-style plan to invest or draw down from as he wishes.

The 58-year-old will receive about $800,000 annually for the next two decades, then $345,000 annually for the rest of his life. His contract provides an additional $270,500 over the first year of his retirement. Carter announced his resignation last week after 35 years with the public utility, the last 13 as CEO.

But he remains at the helm until the board names an interim replacement.

His impending departure marks the first executive to leave following the July 31 abandonment of a nuclear power project customers have been funding since 2009. Santee Cooper jointly owns the now-scuttled project with South Carolina Electric & Gas.

The retirement package involves his state pension, his contract and Santee Cooper's benefit plans for executives.

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