Open Letter to Customers
April 8, 2019
Dear Santee Cooper Customer,
You are likely aware of ongoing discussions concerning Santee Cooper and its future. In addition to a legislative debate, third-party groups have put out their own opinions, assertions and even wrong information regarding your electric provider.
Santee Cooper is owned by the state of South Carolina, and only the General Assembly can approve a sale of Santee Cooper. As a state entity, it is not owned by stockholders motivated by profits and dividends. The General Assembly is currently discussing options for our future, including selling Santee Cooper to a private, investor-owned utility, approving a contract for another entity to manage Santee Cooper, and providing additional state oversight of Santee Cooper.
By law, Santee Cooper cannot advocate for or against a sale, and this letter is not an attempt to persuade you one way or the other. But it is important that you have accurate information about Santee Cooper’s rates and financial condition.
Santee Cooper’s Rates
We do not anticipate a rate increase until at least 2021. Santee Cooper currently offers customers the lowest typical 1,000-kWh/month residential bill among major utilities serving South Carolina:
- Santee Cooper - $117.63
- Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) - $117.74*
- Duke Energy Progress (DEP) - $125.43 *
- Dominion/SCE&G - $124.91*
* Source: SC Office of Regulatory Staff
Our residential rates are 9 percent lower than the state average and 8 percent lower than the national average, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Based on proposed rate increases that both Duke utilities have filed, and on announced plans by Santee Cooper and Dominion to increase rates in 2021, our typical residential bill will remain competitive going forward:
- Santee Cooper – $131 (by 2025; approximation includes projected fuel costs)
- Duke Energy Carolinas - $132 (after June 1, 2019)
- Duke Energy Progress - $143 (after June 1, 2019)
- Dominion/SCE&G – TBD, more than $125
Santee Cooper’s typical residential customer is now paying an average $5.68 a month related to Santee Cooper’s share of the canceled nuclear project. On average, the typical residential customer will pay $13.08 a month related to the nuclear project over the life of the debt. These costs are included in the estimated typical bills shown above.
Santee Cooper’s Financial Condition
Santee Cooper’s long-term debt is rated in the A category by the major credit rating agencies, comparable to or better than debt ratings for neighboring investor-owned utilities. An A-category rating is assigned when agencies believe there is a strong capacity to meet financial commitments. We have $7.2 billion in system debt, about $4 billion related to the nuclear project. We have paid down approximately $800 million in long-term debt since July 2017. We continue to look for efficiencies to reduce our costs, and our projections show Santee Cooper’s financial metrics, including debt outstanding, will improve in the coming years.
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