Santee Cooper Economic Development Incentives and Rising Rates
By Paul Gable
Santee Cooper and 20 associated electric coops in the state are providing economic development cash and rate cuts while raising the rates on current customers.
The electric company’s board recently approved rate hikes of 3.5 percent per year for the next two years for its residential, commercial, industrial and municipal customers. This on top of a rate increase in 2010, which brings the total increase into double digits.
At the same time, Santee Cooper provides tens of thousands of dollars in economic development incentives and up to a 20 percent rate reduction for new or expanding companies.
The utility sees no contradiction in this. It claims a need to raise rates to recover costs, meet environmental regulations and build more capacity. At the same time, Santee Cooper gives away incentive money to economic development projects, which can be highly speculative at best.
Santee Cooper has committed to providing the Myrtle Beach Economic Development Corporation’s infamous Project Blue $550,000 in upfront cash to help the startup company purchase equipment.
To date, there is no record that the principals in Covation, LLC, the company that will operate Project Blue’s call center, are dipping into their own pockets to use any personal assets to get the company up and running.
Of course, there may not be much in the way of personal assets. Records show Covation COO David Rocker, still had federal tax liens against him through December 2011.
But, is that reason for a state-owned utility, the county and state government to use public money (to the tune of $24 million) to possibly help get a new company up and running on the off chance that it will create up to 1,000 jobs for a couple of years?
How does that fit into a philosophy of reducing the size and spending of government that we hear our politicians, especially those currently running for office, always talking about?
Read more about the Santee Cooper rate hike: http://thenerve.org/news/2012/09/20/Santee-Cooper/