We told you the storm was coming … but it is getting much closer than you might imagine if you are a ratepayer of South Carolina’s embattled government-run power provider, Santee Cooper.
After jacking rates through the roof to subsidize a since-abandoned nuclear power project (the NukeGate debacle), Santee Cooper is now in a hopelessly impossible situation which will require it to raise rates even further to pay off its mountain of debt.
Wait … didn’t the agency say last year that it was freezing rates?
This week, there was even more curious maneuvering from Santee Cooper -maneuvering which pointed toward the growing likelihood of looming rate hikes.
As it stares down a class action lawsuit in the S.C. thirteenth judicial circuit, Santee Cooper filed a motion earlier this week seeking to strike “claims for future damages” from deliberations, or “alternatively, excluding such claims … and evidence or arguments about future damages or any mention of the same in the presence of the jury.”
This proposed gag order would specifically address “projections of rates to be charged to Santee Cooper customers,” which the utility claimed were “subject to debate and decision by the body that created (Santee Cooper) – the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina.”
You know, the same people who landed the state in the NukeGate mess in the first place …
Speculation about rates and “future damages” against Santee Cooper “would be conjectural and speculative,” the motion further stated.
Take a look …
(Click to view)
(Via: S.C. Thirteenth Judicial Circuit)
What does this mean? Simple …
“Santee Cooper doesn’t want lawyers in a class action lawsuit to make any reference to the future rates the utility might charge as a result of the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project,” reporter Andrew Brown of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier tweeted. “Any such comments should be grounds for mistrial, the utility argues.”
Are we surprised, though? No … not at all.
As lawmakers continue their increasingly secretive deliberations regarding the ultimate disposition of Santee Cooper, we are once again receiving a compelling reminder that this tone-deaf entity has no intention of ever leveling with the public about its true financial situation.
Just like it never told the truth about the command economic implosion that created the dire straits in which it currently finds itself …
While Santee Cooper’s silence is deafening, those who are discussing its future liabilities have thrown out some staggering sums.
Just this month, S.C. governor Henry McMaster noted in his executive budget (.pdf) that “paying off Santee Cooper’s debt will cost direct-serve customers in Horry County, Georgetown, and Berkeley about $6,200 per household.”
No wonder the utility wants to keep jury members in the dark.
Once … just once … we would like to hear something resembling (or for that matter even approaching) the truth from Santee Cooper, which has spent the last year overtly propagandizing and attempting to undercut long-overdue legislative efforts to unload the state-owned monstrosity (something we first proposed doing over a dozen years ago).
As is the case with so many failed government-run entities in the Palmetto State, though, it appears Santee Cooper has become incapable of shooting straight with the public.
Seriously: Have we not yet paid a sufficient price for this chronic dishonesty?
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