Nuclear Power Station (copy) (copy)

Santee Cooper's budget next year is the same as it was for 2018. The utiltyy slashed its spending plan by more tyhan $1 billion in late 2017, a few months after abandoning plans to build two reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station (above) with S.C. Eelectric & Gas Co. File/Grace Beahm/Staff

Santee Cooper's operating budget will remain flat for 2019, with no rate increases next year.

The state-owned utility said its board approved the $2.1 billion spending plan at its meeting in Pinopolis on Monday.

The funding includes $1.7 billion for fuel and other expenses tied to the electric business, nearly $297 million for equipment and construction projects, and $9.9 million for the water systems.

“With this 2019 budget, Santee Cooper will continue to provide reliable, competitively priced electricity and maintain a strong financial position and credit ratings, all without a rate increase,” interim CEO Jim Brogdon said in a written statement. “This reflects our ongoing commitment to hold the line on costs to benefit our customers and the state of South Carolina.”

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Last year, Moncks Corner-based Santee Cooper slashed its budget by nearly 35 percent, or $1 billion, after walking away from its 45 percent stake in the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant expansion. That project failed in July 2017 after years of delays and cost overruns.  

Santee Cooper is the largest power provider in the state. It serves about 2 million South Carolinians, mostly through the statewide network of electric cooperatives that purchase its electricity.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott