Possible sale of Santee Cooper attracts multiple proposals amid Summer nuke fallout
- State-owned Santee Cooper is attracting plenty of potential buyers as South Carolina officials consider selling the utility as one way to deal with economic fallout from its failed investment in the V.C. Summer nuclear expansion. Companies who have indicated an interest are NextEra Energy, Duke Energy, Southern Co. and Dominion Energy.
- The State said there is also a conglomeration of electric cooperatives considering buying all or part of the utility. Along with interest from a local investment company, that could be one way of keeping the utility's management local.
- Santee Cooper is the minority owner in the nuclear expansion project, owning 45% of the project. SCANA's South Carolina Electric & Gas is the majority owner. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) reportedly said the utility is up for sale shortly after the Summer debacle.
Ultimately, the failed Summer project may mean SCE&G and Santee Cooper are both sold to new owners. The utilities have taken on billions in debt and have nothing to show for it, except higher customer bills.
Dominion Energy has already made a formal move to purchase SCE&G, though the future of that deal is uncertain. State lawmakers are considering major changes to the utility's rates and its recovery of the Summer expenses — but if the utility can't recover the costs, Dominion wont buy it. Santee Cooper is still in the early stages of a possible sale, but there is significant interest.
The utility generates power for 2 million people that is distributed by 20 electric cooperatives. Santee Cooper also supplies power directly to more than two dozen large industrial customers, the Charleston Air Force Base and two municipalities.
The cooperatives have shown an interest, in addition to several other well-known energy companies, in purchasing some or all of the utility. There have been offers for its transmission and distribution assets as well as offers to manage the company but allow it to remain state-owned, The State reported.
Santee Cooper has about $8 billion in debt, and about $4 billion is from the failed nuclear project. When SCANA decided last year to abandon construction, it had already spent $9 billion in ratepayer funds into the project.
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