A Lowcountry state senator said that, if South Carolina lawmakers sell off state-owned power utility Santee Cooper, he does not want a new owner to monopolize the market in the same way.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said the sale needs to be focused on the customer. “You’ve got in place a situation and a prospect of selling a state-owned provider that currently has a monopoly. And we’ve got the opportunity to debate the terms on which that is going to be done,” Davis said Wednesday on a conference call hosted by the conservative Palmetto Promise Institute (PPI).
Davis said it is up to the public to insist that their elected representatives empower consumers rather than utilities. “We will expect the consumers of electric in Santee Cooper’s service area to have choices,” he said.
A PPI report on electric rates argued states with competitive energy markets — or more than one electric utility supplying power — have seen prices fall by nearly 18 percent over the last decade.
The group said monopoly states like South Carolina have seen energy prices rise by 2.55 percent on average. South Carolina’s rates in all three rate classes (industrial, commercial and residential) are higher than both North Carolina and Georgia.
Santee Cooper’s sale is expected to be one of the top issues in next year’s Statehouse session. Gov. Henry McMaster wants to sell off the utility to help recover more than $8 billion in debt after Santee Cooper’s nuclear partnership to build two new reactors with private SCE&G collapsed last year.