Santee Cooper wants feedback on rate increases as nuclear expansion funding woes continue


As Santee Cooper’s continues struggling to fund an over-budget nuclear power expansion project, the state-owned utility company is going forward with more proposed rate increases for customers.

Santee Cooper’s Board of Directors approved Monday a “public comment period” for a proposed two-year rate increase that would start in 2018. The increase would have customers’ electric bills go up 7.4 percent (3.7 percent per year) by 2019.

Customers have until Sept. 22 to weigh in on the proposed rate hikes, with options to comment online or by regular mail, as well as in public meetings scheduled through August.

Prices already increased 3.7 percent for Santee Cooper customers each of the last two years, as part of a previous two-year rate increase approved in late 2015. The most recent increase took effect April 1.

The rate increases have been proposed to help pay for, in part, Santee Cooper’s expansion of its V.C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station outside Columbia.

Santee Cooper’s board also voted Monday to delay a decision on if it will scrap the $14 billion expansion project, dogged by criticism for its costs to the state's customers.

The deadline for taking action on two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Station was Monday, but Santee Cooper's board extended a study on the project's future to Aug. 10.

Santee Cooper and SCE&G have been examining whether to continue the project, which is about one-third complete and approaching $3 billion over budget.

The project was plunged into doubt when chief designer and contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March.

To finance the effort, SCE&G ratepayers have been hit with nine power bill increases. Santee Cooper customers have experienced five.

Santee Cooper’s board is scheduled to vote on the newly proposed rate adjustments at its Dec. 11 meeting.

To submit comments on the proposed rate increases online, visit Comments can also be mailed to Santee Cooper, Attn: Rates M301, P.O. Box 2946101, Moncks Corner, SC 29461.

Public meetings for comments on the rate increases are scheduled for following locations and dates:

  • Aug. 14 at 6 p.m.: Santee Cooper Headquarters, 1 Riverwood Dr., Moncks Corner
  • Aug. 15 at 2 p.m.: North Myrtle Beach City Hall, 1120 Second Ave. South, North Myrtle Beach
  • Aug. 15 at 6 p.m.: Waccamaw Branch Georgetown County Library, 41 St. Paul Place, Pawleys Island
  • Aug. 16 at 2 p.m.: Santee Cooper Conway Office, 100 Elm St., Conway
  • Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.: Myrtle Beach Law Enforcement Center, 1101 N. Oak St., Myrtle Beach

(The Associated Press contributed information to this report)

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