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Santee Cooper bill approved by both chambers!

We’ve been waiting a long time to say this… yesterday the General Assembly unanimously passed Santee Cooper reform legislation and today it is on its way to the Governor for his signature!! This reform package has the potential to make our state-owned utility a leader in the transition to clean energy that South Carolina deserves – this is a win for customers, the state, and the environment.

Huge thanks go out to legislators for working hard to hammer out a compromise and all those who advocated for a better Santee Cooper. Send your senator and representative a note to thank them for their efforts on reforming Santee Cooper by clicking here.

Santee Cooper is the state’s largest power provider, serving electricity, either directly or indirectly through cooperatives, to approximately two million South Carolinians. Whether or not to sell the debt-ridden public utility was a point of debate for the SC General Assembly for Years, but ultimately there weren’t enough votes for ‘sale’ and this session legislators agreed on a reform path that increases oversight, accountability, and governance. We hope that with these new guardrails in place, and continued advocacy and vigilance, Santee Cooper can become a more modern, clean, and equitable utility.

Check out coverage by Post & Courier and The State.

Conservation voters like you made their voice heard in this debate, in part by signing on to CVSC’s 100% Clean Energy Santee Cooper petition and contacting your lawmakers through things like online actions and virtual lobby week. And it made a difference!!

The new reform legislation requires:

  • Review and approval by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in a public proceeding for the need for and location of Santee Cooper’s new major facilities (like power plants) under the Siting Act.
  • Santee Cooper to submit its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to the PSC for approval, rejection, or modification in a public proceeding allowing intervenors to conduct discovery and testify, bringing energy planning to the same level of scrutiny as investor-owned utilities.
  • Santee Cooper to conduct a public IRP stakeholder process and meet all Energy Freedom Act IRP requirements, specifically including an analysis of the long-term power supply alternatives and identification of the most cost‐effective and lowest ratepayer-risk scenario. In its review, the PSC must specifically evaluate the potential cost savings from retiring remaining coal assets and whether there are other less costly and risky options than new self-build generation like competitive procurement of renewable energy or purchasing from, joining, or creating a regional transmission organization.
  • Santee Cooper to evaluate the closure of the Winyah coal plant by 2028 while meeting a net zero carbon emission goal by the Year 2050 in its IRP.
  • Development and implementation of a plan to facilitate a community-driven transition from coal that promotes job training, economic development, and job attraction for the workers and communities impacted by plant closures.
  • Establishment of a PSC-approved solar energy competitive procurement program according to best management practices.
  • The Governor and Senate to consider diversity on the Board of Santee Cooper to assure nondiscrimination, inclusion, and representation.
  • Additional oversight, review, and accountability by ORS and the legislature and greater transparency and public engagement.

As you can tell, this is a robust reform bill! It marks the culmination of a Years-long legislative effort to correct the course after the $9 billion VC Summer nuclear debacle. We hope Governor McMaster quickly signs this bill into law so that Santee Cooper can get to work.

Don’t forget to thank your legislators for their efforts to reform Santee Cooper!

And lastly, to our supporters and partners, thank YOU! We couldn’t make advancements like this towards clean energy without your help. But stay tuned – while this bill marks great progress, as the saying goes, our work has just begun. Not only do we need to ensure these reforms are diligently implemented, but we also need to make sure all three of our state’s monopoly utilities continue moving towards efficiency, affordability, and decarbonization.

As always, we’ll keep you posted on ways to get involved!

Natalie Olson, Campaigns Director

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