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Santee Cooper cancels proposed rate increase

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The Santee Cooper Board of Directors has authorized management to withdraw two proposed rate increases.

Those increases, if they had been approved, would have taken effect in 2018 and 2019.

Related: Santee Cooper proposes rate increase, businesses and residents brace for impacts

The withdrawal follows the board’s suspension last week of the construction of two nuclear power units at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

"Santee Cooper is planning informational meetings in our retail territory in the upcoming weeks, to discuss the factors leading up to our suspension of the Summer plant expansion. Details about these meetings will be announced soon," the release said.

“Conditions have changed materially since the rate process began in March,” said W. Leighton Lord III, Chairman of the Santee Cooper Board of Directors. “Our recent Board votes to suspend the nuclear project and also to accept a negotiated settlement with Toshiba, Westinghouse’s parent company, allow us to now cancel this rate process. The Board will continue to make decisions based on what is necessary to protect the financial integrity of Santee Cooper.”

The Board approved a rate study in March, prior to Westinghouse’s bankruptcy, and, based on that study, Santee Cooper management in June proposed rate increases of an average 3.7 percent each across all customer classes that would take effect in April 2018 and April 2019, the release said.

“Toshiba’s settlement will help offset the cost of the nuclear project, but Santee Cooper will still need to cover costs related to our load, other system improvements and environmental compliance,” said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper President and CEO. “We will tighten our belts and continue to look for ways we can be more efficient to make up the balance. It is important that we hold the line on costs, and Santee Cooper’s talented and dedicated workforce will rise to the occasion.”

Santee Cooper is the project’s minority owner, with a 45 percent share. South Carolina Electric & Gas owns 55 percent of the project. Toshiba, parent company to Westinghouse, agreed to settle its parental obligations for the project July 27, and Santee Cooper will use its net proceeds from that settlement to directly benefit customers. The settlement will be paid in installments beginning in October 2017 and ending in September 2022.

Next week’s canceled rate comment meetings are:

  • Aug. 14, 6 p.m., Moncks Corner
  • Aug. 15, 2 p.m. in North Myrtle Beach, 6 p.m. in Pawleys Island
  • Aug. 16, 2 p.m. in Conway, 6 p.m. in Myrtle Beach