As a state-owned utility, Santee Cooper is accountable to its customers and the people of South Carolina. That means more than delivering low-priced, reliable electricity and water. It also means delivering excellent customer service, putting safety first, valuing a diverse workforce and providing an inclusive work culture where all employees are supported. Additionally, accountability means conducting the public’s business transparently.
We are investing in reliability. Santee Cooper ranks 4th in grid reliability among U.S midsize utilities, and 4th among 553 investor-owned utilities and cooperatives across the U.S in 2020. We have received the American Public Power Association’s RP3 Award (for reliability) each time it has been offered. We invest each year in maintaining our grid to most effectively power South Carolina’s progress.
We are expanding our culture of customer service. Santee Cooper has a long history of prioritizing the customer experience, and retail customers give Santee Cooper high marks in customer satisfaction, with ratings consistently above 90% in independent third-party surveys. Early in 2020 we created the company’s first Chief Customer Officer position, and our CCO is focused on opportunities to do even better, so we can deliver unparalleled service.
We are putting safety first. Not only are we delivering for customers, we are protecting our hardworking employees as well. Santee Cooper has ranked 1st in American Public Power Association’s Safety Award for Excellence for large utilities in three of the last four years, and 2018 and 2019 marked our two lowest recordable incident rates in Santee Cooper history.
We are committed to supporting a diverse workforce. Santee Cooper has consistently ranked at the top of large state agencies when it comes to achieving diverse workforce goals, as measured by the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. We recognize the value of diversity and inclusion and continue to look for opportunities to grow and improve in these areas.
We are protecting the environment. Santee Cooper introduced renewable energy to South Carolina electric customers in 2001, and we’ve offered energy efficiency programs and support since the 1970s. We can do more, and we are. From digging out our ash ponds (and helping recycle the ash) to replacing coal units with a significant amount of new solar power, we are growing our role as environmental steward.
We are increasing transparency and strengthening governance. We embrace the opportunity given by the 2020 General Assembly to regularly update the Office of Regulatory Staff on progress related to transforming our power supply, reducing debt, improving our financial position and other matters. You can find those monthly updates here. We are also providing more detail on work progress during our public Board of Directors meetings and increasing our communications to customers, and detailing progress on this website.
(April 7, 2021) The S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff has completed its review of the information Santee Cooper submitted for the January 2021 Review Period. The ORS has concluded that “Santee Cooper did not take action that violated the terms contained in Act 135 Section 11 subsection E during the Review Period.” The review is available on the ORS website.
(March 22, 2021) The Santee Cooper Board of Directors approved a preliminary settlement of a class-action suit related to its canceled plans to build a coal-fired generating station in Florence County (the Pee Dee station). Hearn v. Santee Cooper was filed in 2015, and Santee Cooper agreed to pay the plaintiffs $12.5 million to settle the suit. The settlement terms must still be approved by the Circuit Court in Horry County.
In a related action, Santee Cooper filed suit against its then insurer, AIG, which sought to characterize Hearn as a “related wrongful act” to the now-settled Cook litigation and restrict its coverage. AIG has agreed to pay Santee Cooper $9.7 million to settle that matter.
(March 1, 2021) The S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff has completed its review of the information Santee Cooper submitted for the December 2020 Review Period. The ORS has concluded that “Santee Cooper did not take action that violated the terms contained in Act 135 Section 11 subsection E during the Review Period.” The review is available on the ORS website.
(February 1, 2021) The Office of Regulatory Staff has reviewed Santee Cooper’s report for November 2020 activity and determined that Santee Cooper did not take action that violated the terms of Act 135, Section 11 (E). You can view the full report here on the ORS website.
(January 25, 2021) Santee Cooper has tied its best safety year in 2020 with only 10 recordable incidents. The previous record was set in 2018, which means the last two out of three years were the best in company history regarding safety. Due to our employees’ dedication to safe work practices, the company has also earned the American Public Power Association’s Safety Award of Excellence three times for 2016-2019, and the 2020 results position us well for APPA’s 2020 evaluation.
(December 31, 2020) The Office of Regulatory Staff has reviewed Santee Cooper’s report for October activity that falls under Act 135 (Section 11), and determined that Santee Cooper did not take action that violated Section 11 terms. You can view the full report here on the ORS website.
(December 24, 2020) Santee Cooper has filed our 2020 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with ORS. Through this IRP, we have identified a twenty‐year plan for a diverse and reliable portfolio of resources that incorporates innovative technologies, improves operating efficiency, and reduces environmental impacts for the benefit of Santee Cooper’s retail and wholesale customers. You can view the IRP here.
(December 16, 2020) We’ve promised you stable rates through at least 2024. To make good on that promise, we’re cutting costs and working to achieve stable rates through 2030. Here are a few highlights from 2019-2020 alone:
Learn more about our progress in financial, energy mix and other area in our 2020 Progress Update, presented today to the Santee Cooper Ad Hoc Committee.
(December 2, 2020) The Office of Regulatory Staff has reviewed Santee Cooper’s report for September activity that falls under Act 135 (Section 11), and determined that Santee Cooper did not take action that violated Section 11 terms but noted we provided supplemental information after the review deadline. You can view the full report here on the ORS website.
(December 2, 2020) Santee Cooper residential customer satisfaction increased to 96% in 2020, beating the national average of 93%. The survey, conducted in October by MarketSearch, asked customers about power quality, customer service, rates and value, conservation programs, and general image. Santee Cooper performed higher than 95% in every category with the highest being power quality at 99%. Read the full press release.
(November 17, 2020) Santee Cooper employees performed their duties incident-free in October and we’re on track for a record year in terms of safe operations. October was actually the third incident-free month for Santee Cooper so far in 2020, following January and July in that achievement. We also completed an impressive 1 million hours without a recordable incident this year. In addition, our incident rate and our Preventable Motor Vehicle Accidents rate are currently the lowest in company history.
Earlier this year, we announced that Santee Cooper earned the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2019. These accomplishments reflect the strong emphasis that our employees and management put on safe work practices, all day and every day.
(November 2, 2020) The Office of Regulatory Staff has reviewed Santee Cooper’s report for August activity that falls under Act 135 (Section 11), and determined that Santee Cooper did not take action that violated Section 11 terms. You can view the full report here on the ORS website.
(October 12, 2020) At every level, Santee Cooper employees are making solid progress on a leaner, greener energy mix and other vital initiatives that are already delivering benefits to you, our customers.
(October 9, 2020) Once again, Santee Cooper’s distribution system reliability ranks among the best in the country. In 2019, we ranked fourth among more than 550 investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and cooperatives, putting us in the top 1% based on the latest available data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The new EIA information shows that Santee Cooper’s reliability is stronger than any of the IOUs or cooperatives doing business in South Carolina, and just one municipal system – Bamberg – outperformed us in the state. Santee Cooper distribution customers were without electricity less than 19 minutes on average last year. That’s service you can count on.
(October 2, 2020) The Office of Regulatory Staff has reviewed Santee Cooper’s report for July activity that falls under Act 135 (Section 11), and determined that Santee Cooper did not take action that violated Section 11 terms. You can view the full report here on the ORS website.
(September 9, 2020) Santee Cooper has created a new Inclusion Diversity and Equity Awareness (IDEA) Council, a cross-functional team of employees responsible for researching and developing programs that will foster a more diverse and inclusive organization. The IDEA Council began meeting in August and has developed a robust plan with projects in place, kicking off with a campaign seeking employees’ thoughts and ideas on how to improve diversity and inclusion at Santee Cooper.
“While inequality is longstanding and undeniable across much of our society, it stands in direct opposition to Santee Cooper’s core values,” said Mark Bonsall, president and CEO. “Creating true, positive and sustainable change is a huge societal task, but it is important that Santee Cooper does our part for our organization and projects that ethic to the communities we serve.”
The goal is to ensure that all employees feel a sense of belonging around our common goal, to be the state’s leading resource for improving the lives of all South Carolinians. “Diversity and inclusion are critically important to our workplace culture, how we treat both fellow employees and customers, and necessary to building a brighter future,” Bonsall continued.
The IDEA Council has already begun the process of reevaluating the diversity and inclusion components of employee training and leadership development and designing improvements. In the future, the Council will develop plans for facilitated conversations, expand our recruiting network, and develop metrics that provide feedback on our efforts.
(September 3, 2020) Santee Cooper ranked No. 14 in South Carolina in Forbes magazine’s 2nd annual ranking of America’s Best Employers by State 2020. Forbes partnered with Statista, a market research company, to rank by state organizations and employers with at least 500 employees.
According to Forbes, the surveys were anonymous, and respondents were asked to rate their employers on criteria including safety of work environment, opportunities for advancement and openness to telecommuting. Respondents also were asked if they would be likely to recommend their employer to others. Surveys were conducted between October 2019 and May 2020.
(September 2, 2020) The Office of Regulatory Staff has reviewed Santee Cooper’s report for June activity that falls under Act 135 (Section 11), and determined that Santee Cooper did not take action that violated Section 11 terms. You can view the full report here on the ORS website.
(August 3, 2020) The Office of Regulatory Staff has reviewed Santee Cooper’s report for May activity that falls under Act 135 (Section 11), and determined that Santee Cooper did not take action that violated Section 11 terms. You can view the full report here on the ORS website.
(July 15, 2020) After six years spent excavating and recycling coal ash from two storage ponds at the former Grainger Generating Station in Conway, Santee Cooper has breached the dike on the second pond and is restoring both reservoirs to natural wetlands.
The wetlands are being planted and will take shape over the next ten years, with a mixture of native species like bald cypress, swamp tupelo, red maple and a variety of oaks. Planting is expected to be complete in 2021.
Santee Cooper diligently maintained the integrity of the excavation site and recovered 1.7 million tons of ash, with 78% being recycled by the cement market. Santee Cooper also removed a bottom layer of soil from the ponds, totaling 469,263 tons, with 83% of that soil beneficially used as daily cover at neighboring landfills. Read more. Watch the Video.
(June 19, 2020) Santee Cooper Commercial Customers continue to be “quite satisfied,” with 96% of respondents in a recent, third-party survey indicating overall satisfaction and two-thirds saying they are very satisfied.
Satisfaction with Santee Cooper is particularly high when it comes to operational and customer service issues, including: restoring power as quickly as possible after an interruption (99.7%), keeping power outages to a minimum (99.1%), quality of electric power provided (98.8%), responding quickly to customer questions and problems (97.5%), and making it easy to do business (95.7%). Read the full survey topline.
(June 16, 2020) Santee Cooper Industrial Customers who responded to a recent independent, third-party survey are 100% satisfied overall, with two out of three indicating they are "very satisfied."
Other measures at 100% satisfaction include restoring power as quickly as possible after an outage, quality of electric power, responsiveness to questions and issues, general customer service, technical expertise, listening to your needs, keeping power outages to a minimum, and communications.
Comments indicate many industrial customers feel Santee Cooper is going above and beyond to keep industrial customers happy. Read the full survey topline.
(June 4, 2020) We are committed to a workplace that embraces fairness and inclusion - a place where employees appreciate and respect each other as individuals while coming together to accomplish a common goal to be the state’s leading resource to improve the lives of all South Carolinians.
Santee Cooper conducts diversity and inclusion training for its existing staff and recruits intentionally to attract new employees from diverse backgrounds. The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission measures state agency performance in achieving a diverse workforce annually, and Santee Cooper is consistently one of the top agencies in goal achievement – and often #1 among large state agencies.
We have also significantly improved diversity among our executive team, which is comprised of direct reports to the CEO and their management reports. The representation of people of color in this group has grown from less than 3% five years ago to 20% today, even as the size of the executive group overall has declined by 15%.
We seek to do even better. In June, President and CEO Mark Bonsall formed an initial team of employees to explore opportunities to enhance dialogue and a culture of equity and inclusion in our workplace. This will be a continuous journey of change and adaptation reflecting one of Santee Cooper’s core values: respect.
Santee Cooper also has contracted with Juan Johnson, designer and facilitator of the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative at Furman University, to design and implement a leadership development program focused on equity, diversity and inclusion, with onsite training scheduled to begin this fall.
(April 20, 2020) Santee Cooper is committed to a safe work environment, and we’re proud to maintain one of the highest standards in the industry. As evidence of that commitment, Santee Cooper earned the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2019.
This marks the third time in four years that we have earned first place in the category for utilities with 1,000,000 to 3,999,999 worker-hours of annual worker exposure. Read the full press release.