Last spring, before he moved from The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper to The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, reporter Avery Wilks filed a story detailing $511,000 in bonus compensation payments doled out by government-run utility Santee Cooper to its top executives.
This was just a few months before Santee Cooper announced exorbitantly high salaries for its new chief executive officer and his second-in-commend … and before we published our exclusive report about the utility’s controversial vehicular stipend fund.
We didn’t notice it at the time, but one of the names included on the bonus list last year (and the vehicle stipend list) was Michael Crosby – who was slated to received $60,400 in bonus compensation on top of his existing salary (which was already approaching $250,000 annually in 2018, according to a report from Rick Brundrett of The Nerve).
As we noted in a recent piece on bureaucratic bonuses in the Palmetto State’s results-challenged state government, this is yet another raise which by itself amounts to more than annual per capita personal income in the Palmetto State – a figure which stood at $42,736 in 2018.
In other words, the increase in Crosby’s salary alone is $17,000 more than the average South Carolinian makes in a year.
Did he earn it?
That brings us to our next question …
Crosby’s title is “senior vice president for nuclear energy,” a promotion he received back in February of 2014 – more than three years before the V.C. Summer nuclear power generating station expansion project he was ostensibly responsible for collapsed at a cost of $10 billion (and counting).
You know … NukeGate.
To recap: Santee Cooper and its private sector partner, SCANA, spent $10 billion on the construction of a pair of next-generation reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C. that were supposed to have been operational in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Despite the massive cash outlay, the project was never finished – the two utilities couldn’t afford the estimated $10-16 billion price tag necessary to complete it. On July 31, 2017 Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the reactors. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed executives at both utilities knew the project was doomed for years and didn’t warn the public.
In fact, Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the reactors just one week after its politically appointed board proposed fresh rate increases related to their construction.
Also of interest? Just this week, John Monk of The State reported that Santee Cooper has paid white collar criminal defense attorney Joe Griffith of Mount Pleasant, S.C. $404,245 in legal fees to represent Crosby in connection with this disaster.
With the meter still running …
We were working our way to a question, weren’t we?
Right. Here it is: Given that it has been two-and-a-half years since this project imploded as a direct result of SCANA and Santee Cooper’s negligence and dishonesty – and given there is no way in hell the project will ever be completed – why on earth is Santee Cooper still paying for a “senior vice president for nuclear energy?”
Seriously: There’s no nuclear …
(Click to view)
(Via: Santee Cooper)
Similarly, Santee Cooper is still shelling out a six-figure salary to Marion Cherry – the former V.C. Summer expansion project “on-site manager.” Not only that, per Monk’s report this week the utility has paid criminal defense attorney Beattie Ashmore of Spartanburg, S.C. $374,677 in legal fees to represent Cherry in connection with NukeGate.
Again … why?
There’s nothing for him to manage …
Six-figure salaries. Bonuses which exceed what hard-working South Carolinians make in a year. Six-figure bills to white collar criminal defense lawyers.
And for what? There is no project. There is no nuclear. There is nothing to manage.
No wonder legislative leaders are so skeptical of Santee Cooper’s so-called “reform” plans.
Sadly, none of this is surprising. Just one month after scuttling the nuclear reactor project, Santee Cooper approved a $16 million “golden parachute” for its former chief executive officer Lonnie Carter – who, incidentally, has rung up a $584,780 tab with Columbia, S.C. criminal defense attorneys Greg Harris and Johnny Gasser.
That is yet another legal bill Santee Cooper is paying … as the meter continues to run.
When will the insanity stop? No time soon, it would appear. We called on lawmakers to unload Santee Cooper more than a dozen years ago – before they plunged the state into a command economic disaster of unprecedented dimension. They didn’t listen. They’re still not listening.
And taxpayers and ratepayers are still paying the price …
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