SC Legislature’s Dilemma: Keep S.C. electricity rates low or save Santee Cooper?

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David Hucks
David Hucks
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at

S.C. House Representative Jay West required Central Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. president Robert C. Hochstetler to testify under oath this morning.

Central Electric Power Cooperative located in Columbia, South Carolina represents 40 electric cooperatives throughout the state. Those cooperatives’ chief goal is to provide affordable, and reliable power transmission so as to keep S.C. electricity rates as affordable as possible.

Oddly, the questions asked by West were largely process questions. West wanted to know when the group of cooperatives opted out of a future agreement with Santee Cooper. He also wanted to know when and if the cooperatives notified the S.C. House and S.C. Senate.

As West later pointed out, Santee Cooper is saddled with $9 billion in debt as a result of a nuclear power project that failed under the improper oversight of the S.C. House, Senator Luke Rankin, and the S.C. Senate.

From his line of questioning, it was clear that West did not seem as concerned with S.C. electricity rates paid by S.C. consumers as he was with the process.

The proposed bill demanding that all S.C. cooperatives purchase power from Santee Cooper is sponsored by Socastee Representative Heather Ammons Crawford, and yet she chose to remain silent.

Ammons-Crawford is also the District 7 Field Manager for U.S. Congressman Russell Fry. Reports came out in the past few weeks that Fry has been requesting campaign donations from the board members of these electric cooperatives.

West curiously stated at the closing of the 51 minutes long hearing, “We have had some hiccups in the process over the years. There is a great amount of debt, bond and indebtedness held at Santee Cooper. We want to protect the coops. We want to make sure that the State of South Carolina and its citizens does not have the millstone of billions of dollars hung around its neck because we are unable to do our job that’s why it is important to have these kinds of meetings.”

Robert C. Hochstetler appeared organized and well prepared. He gave great credibility to the hearing.

S.C. Rep. Jay West (Anderson & Greenville Counties) often grasped for particular details and continued to be politely corrected by the Central Cooperative President.


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