Santee Cooper awards CEO 8 percent pay raise

Lonnie Carter, president and CEO of Santee Cooper

Santee Cooper’s board hiked the pay for its top executive by $33,000 a year Friday.

The agency’s directors voted to give Lonnie Carter, president and CEO of the state-owned public utility, an 8 percent raise.

Carter’s annual salary is now $450,252, said spokeswoman Mollie Gore.

“It is the first raise he has gotten in 41 months,” she said.

The board determined Carter met or exceeded goals in areas such as lowering costs and improving performance. Some $30 million was cut out of the operating budget this year for the Moncks Corner-based utility, Gore said.

In April, when the CEO’s pay is usually reviewed, the board decided Carter would go without a raise. The board voted not to award raises for top executives in 2012, a year after Santee Cooper came under fire from lawmakers after the board approved 3 percent pay bumps for Carter and four other top executives. The governor’s office asked the board to reconsider the pay hikes, and they were later rescinded.

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Carter’s pay raise is retroactive to July 1. It was awarded based on other factors including the reliability of Santee Cooper service, its advancing nuclear program and a new long-term agreement to supply power for the state’s 20 electric cooperatives.

The board, meeting at Pawley’s Island, voted for the raise after a closed-door session of the agency’s Human Resources Committee on personnel matters related to employee development, retention and executive compensation.

Carter joined the power and water provider as an entry-level engineer in 1982 and became its top executive in 2004.

Santee Cooper, South Carolina’s largest power producer, supplies electricity for 2 million people across the state.