South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, Santee Cooper, is trying to keep up with the state’s growth by proposing a rate hike in Horry and Georgetown counties. Local environmental groups say the new revenue would be used to build an unnecessary coal-fired plant.
Mollie Gore of Santee Cooper says they want to hear from the community before they present their case to the board members. Their case, if approved, would cause the average ratepayer to pay an additional $6.50 per month starting this November, then an additional $8 in November of 2010. In the Pawley’s Island public meeting, John Bracken spoke out.
“I don’t have a problem with a rate hike, what I have a problem with is what they’re using the rate hike’s money to accomplish, to build an unnecessary coal-fired plant,” says Bracken.
This proposed coal-fired plant -is- part of Santee Cooper’s plan to keep up with electricity demands, but Gore says the proposed rate hike is so much more than that.
“That is one piece of our comprehensive plan to meet South Carolina’s energy needs over the next several decades,” says Gore.
And she says there are several other bigger pieces, including the VC Summer Nuclear Plant in Jenkinsville.
“We’ve not had a rate increase in 13 years, we are actively seeking our customer’s input and feedback and the reasons why we need to take this step at this time are two-fold. Number one is to meet increasing operating cost and number two is to make sure we can plan for the state’s future growth,” says Gore.
So, now that Bracken has put in his two cents in at the public meeting, he still hasn’t changed his mind.
“I just do not feel that they are using the best energy-producing technology to create the additional power that they claim they will need. They intend to increase the rates and I’m not sure that they care what the public says, but they politely listened to us,” says Bracken.
But, Gore says they have done all they can to stop the increase, but the hike is a must to keep up with business.