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Lonnie Carter is the president and CEO of Santee Cooper – the state of South Carolina’s unwieldy, unaccountable government-owned public utility.

According to the latest state salary data, he makes $429,406 a year – not counting benefits. His top deputy, Bill McColl, makes $388,466 a year – again, not counting benefits. Not only that, both Carter and McColl scored fat pay raises just a few months ago – along with several of the utility’s other top executives.

Why does this matter?

Well, for starters, South Carolina has no business operating a state utility. Its an infinitely corrupt endeavor – particularly when the utility’s political affiliates can subsidize the reelection efforts of the state’s governor and other politicians. Santee Cooper should have been sold years ago … with the proceeds placed into a taxpayer rebate fund.

Anyway, less than four months after their already exorbitant salaries were inflated even further, Santee Cooper is now set to impose (note: we didn’t say “ask for”) a rate increase on its 163,000 residential and commercial customers.

Of course the utility’s leader has some great advice for Santee Cooper customers.

“Most residential customers could offset a slight rate increase by using less electricity,” Carter said, according to The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.

Wait … what?

This overpaid state bureaucrat’s solution to higher energy prices (during a recession, no less) is for customers to use less power?

That’s amazing … in fact, Carter’s tone-deafness reminds us of S.C. Department of Transportation commissioner Harrison Reardon, who told The Greenville News earlier this year that “the public does not have a say” after participating in one of the flagrant vote-buying scams that have helped pushed that agency to the brink of fiscal ruin.

At Gov. Nikki Haley’s request, SCDOT just received a $52 million federal bailout, by the way.

Seriously, South Carolina … this is yet another example of the leaders of our splintered, dysfunctional, self-serving state government adding  insult to injury. Not only are they wasting your money on non-essential functions … but according to them it’s none of your damned business.

Oh, in addition to its planned rate hike, Santee Cooper also decided this week to raise lease rates as part of its tax-free property management scam.

“Let them eat cake,” right?