South Carolina governor Henry McMaster’s administration has reportedly selected the winning bids from those private sector companies looking to purchase – or manage – the Palmetto State’s embattled government-run utility, Santee Cooper. According to our sources, legislative leaders will be provided with the details of these winning bids within days – perhaps as soon as this Tuesday morning (February 11, 2020).
Details of the bids could be released to the public as soon as Thursday during legislative committee hearings – more than a month ahead of the March 15, 2020 deadline.
Within the next two months, state lawmakers will vote on whether to accept the sale offer or the management proposal chosen by McMaster’s team – or whether to endorse Santee Cooper’s so-called “reform” plan, which this news outlet believes will be little more than a continuation of the utility’s recent smoke-and-mirrors propagandizing.
Not to mention a rumored “back door” push by Atlanta, Georgia-based Southern Company – which was preparing to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Santee Cooper last fall before legislative leaders stepped in and shut the process down.
To read our guiding principles on this process, click here.
The debate over unloading this abysmally managed, state-run utility stems from NukeGate – a government-funded, ratepayer-subsidized boondoggle that was supposed to produce two next generation nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C. These two reactors – co-owned by Santee Cooper and SCANA (a company which was purchased in December of 2018 by Dominion Energy) – were supposed to have come online in 2016 and 2017, respectively, at a cost of $9.8 billion.
That didn’t happen, though …
The money was spent, but the reactors were never finished – and the two utilities couldn’t afford the estimated $10-16 billion price tag necessary to complete them. On July 31, 2017 Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the boondoggle. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed executives at the utilities knew the project was doomed for years and didn’t warn the public.
The collapse of the project has sparked a flood of legal disputes … and an ongoing federal investigation. It has also raised long-overdue questions about the efficacy of allowing government to be involved in the energy generation business, especially after state lawmakers effectively socialized more than $2 billion of the investment risk associated with NukeGate.
To recap: This news outlet first proposed selling Santee Cooper a dozen years ago when it could have netted taxpayers billions of dollars. Today, the Palmetto State will be lucky just to get rid of the massive debt the utility is carrying with it.
Stay tuned … we look forward to reviewing the details of these proposals in the days to come.
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