COLUMBIA — Santee Cooper and South Carolina’s electric cooperatives are offering a special power rate for new and expanding industries in the state.

Officials for the utilities say the new economic development rate could save companies as much as 20 percent on their power bills.

State-owned electric utility Santee Cooper and the cooperatives generally serve rural areas of the state where industrial expansion is expected to take place in the future. Santee Cooper president and CEO Lonnie Carter says the rate will provide another incentive in attracting new industry to South Carolina.

Under the program, the new economic development rate would reduce electric bills during the first four years after a qualifying industry begins operation. To get the rate, companies must meet certain employment and capital investment requirements.