Santee Cooper cancels planned rate increase after suspending nuclear construction

MONCKS CORNER, SC (WBTW) – Santee Cooper officials say they will not move forward with a rate hike that was proposed for 2018 and 2019 following the utility’s withdrawal from construction of two nuclear power units.

A press released from the company states the Santee Cooper Board of Directors approved management to withdraw the two proposed increases, which “cancels all steps in the rate process, including rate comment meetings scheduled for next week in the utility’s retail customer service territory and an October Board public hearing on the rate proposal, as well as a scheduled December Board vote on the increases.”

Santee Cooper will host meetings in the upcoming weeks to share information on why the utility company decided to suspend the Summer plant expansion. Dates and times for those meetings have not been finalized.

Chairman of the Santee Cooper Board of Directors says the company’s decision to pull out of the nuclear project and settlements regarding the construction allow the board to dismiss the idea of increase customer’s electricity bills.

“Conditions have changed materially since the rate process began in March,” said W. Leighton Lord III, Chairman of the Santee Cooper Board of Directors. “Our recent Board votes to suspend the nuclear project and also to accept a negotiated settlement with Toshiba, Westinghouse’s parent company, allow us to now cancel this rate process. The Board will continue to make decisions based on what is necessary to protect the financial integrity of Santee Cooper.”

The rate increase meetings previously scheduled for North Myrtle Beach, Conway, Pawleys Island, and Moncks Corner are cancelled.

“We will tighten our belts and continue to look for ways we can be more efficient to make up the balance,” said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper President and CEO. “It is important that we hold the line on costs, and Santee Cooper’s talented and dedicated workforce will rise to the occasion.”

The most recent rate increase for Santee Cooper customers was approved in December 2015. At that time, the board voted to increase rates for customers in 2016 and 2017. For the past two years, utility prices increased April 1 by an average of 3.7 percent.

Prior to 2016, Santee Cooper’s most recent rate hike was in 2013.