Santee Cooper stops building nuclear plants to cut costs, still plans to raise rates

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Santee Cooper decided to stop building two nuclear power plants but company officials say they’re still moving forward with plans to potentially increase rates over the next two years.

The board of directors voted to halt construction on Monday because the project was becoming more expensive than they anticipated. “A tough decision to suspend construction of the two units but, bottom line, we did that in the best interest of our customers”, said Public Relations Specialist Susan Mungo.

Santee Cooper says it stopped building 2 nuclear power units to save customers almost $7 billion. “That will give us some time to look at other options and other ways to finance the money that has been spent,” said Mungo. However, the company is still considering increasing rates by almost 5% in 2018 and 2019 to repay money it’s already borrowed for the project.

Mungo says even though the proposed rate increase is still likely, halting construction now will prevent the company from hiking rates even further in the coming years.“What we hope is that this will give us time to look for other options and stabilize rate increases and do away with, perhaps, do away with them in the future,” she said.  Mungo adds that the company is still trying to find ways to minimize the impact on your electric bill in the next two years. “We will be looking at other cost-cutting measures within Santee Cooper budgets, always. It’s something we look at cutting every year.”

Santee Cooper’s Board of Directors will vote on the rate increase in December. Mungo says Santee Cooper is still interested in hearing customers’ opinions on the proposed rate increase before then. “I can tell you that public comment has changed decisions on our board in the past,” she said.

The company will hold five public meetings for customers to come and give their opinion on  the rate increase. They are on:

  • 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