I believe in Santee Cooper. Since the decision to halt construction on the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant was announced in August, some have started to doubt their trust in the organization, but as someone who has the honor to work with the men and women of Santee Cooper every day I can only say that I hope to continue that relationship for many years to come.
Santee Cooper is a name that the residents of the state of South Carolina, the greater Charleston area and Moncks Corner in particular have come to trust over the years. For generations, they have been a catalyst for industry and employment in our region and across the state. So, before rushing forward with a decision on its future, we need to take into consideration the benefits Santee Cooper provides to our state, rather than make decisions on incomplete information.
Santee Cooper has been South Carolina’s largest electric provider for years, but they’re more than just a power company, benefitting the state and local communities behind the scenes in so many other ways. Educational programs, community sponsorship and fundraisers, their Green Power initiative, renewable resources, water services, serving as an engine for economic growth — Santee Cooper is more than just electricity.
Some of you may not even know how Santee Cooper has helped you when you’re paying your bill. From the various electric cooperatives to several municipal-owned power systems, more than 2 million customers across the state are served by and benefit from the low-cost power they provide. Even if its name isn’t on your bill, there is a good chance you’d be paying more if it weren’t for Santee Cooper. The utility, which is headquartered in Moncks Corner, cares about the residents and businesses it serves, and is always striving to be a constant driving force in the continued growth and economic development of the state.
South Carolina has been booming for years now, with our area becoming a major hub within the state. The town of Moncks Corner alone has grown by more than 25 percent in the past five years. One of the main reasons people migrate to the area is the jobs. The new Volvo plant alone will bring almost 4,000 jobs to the greater Charleston area, and Santee Cooper played a large role in its decision to move here. And it’s not just Volvo. Corporations such as Google, Samsung, Mercedes, Mercom, Startek and more have moved into South Carolina to provide more and more jobs for our residents. In 2016 alone, Santee Cooper brought 5,000 jobs and $830.6 million in capital investment to the state.
Since its founding over 80 years ago, Santee Cooper’s mission has been to be the state’s leading resource for improving the quality of life for South Carolina residents. This is because, as a public utility, Santee Cooper serves and answers to the people of South Carolina — not shareholders looking to maximize a return on investment. It is because Santee Cooper belongs to the people of South Carolina that we can even have a voice in its future. But once that voice is given up, it is lost. Forever.
Santee Cooper is more than a news story about the suspended V.C. Summer nuclear plant. They are our neighbors. They are our friends. They are an organization fully committed to the more than 2 million South Carolinians they serve. Rather than rushing to judgment, I encourage decision makers to take a step back and consider what all the implications would be before making any decision on Santee Cooper’s future.
Michael A. Lockliear is mayor of the town of Moncks Corner.