Dominion Energy has tried to sweeten its offer to buy South Carolina power utility SCANA by also offering to take over the operations of debt-ridden Santee Cooper.
In a Monday filing to the state Public Service Commission, Dominion CEO Tom Farrell argued the takeover could help save the state-owned utility hundreds of millions of dollars. While the offer would still leave Santee Cooper under the state’s ownership, Dominion would take over its management.
The company’s filing called the idea “a unique management arrangement that we believe will save Santee’s electric customers hundreds of millions of dollars in overhead, fuel and capital related costs, providing significant cost savings on an ongoing basis for years to come.”
The letter’s existence was first reported by The State newspaper.
The Virginia-based company argued, if the deal does not happen, Santee Cooper customers could face higher rates to pay off more than $4 billion in debt. The state could also be forced to sell off Santee Cooper entirely to pay off that debt.
South Carolina lawmakers are studying Santee Cooper’s future. A joint committee of legislators and the governor is trying to make a recommendation by early next year about potential buyers. A spokesman for Gov. Henry McMaster said Dominion should present its offer to the committee.
The filing comes just a few days before the Public Service Commission will begins proceedings on whether Dominion can buy SCANA. The commission must also determine what — if anything — the company could charge SCE&G’s customers to pay back the debt from an ill-fated nuclear project. The PSC does not oversee Santee Cooper, however.