August 1, 2009

Comments to the board of directors

Statement for Santee Cooper Board Meeting, July 27, 2009
Grace GiffordFive Rivers Friends (Quakers) Meeting

In Horry County, helping agencies such as Churches Assisting People, Catholic Charities and North Strand Helping Hand are already getting client requests for help with utility bills. With record unemployment and an economic turnaround still elusive, this situation has been an ongoing challenge.

Now the Santee Cooper Board is considering two rate hikes. The helping agencies will no doubt get more requests, and will have to say “no” more often to client requests. What can be done to keep the lights on for our struggling local families? How can faith communities continue to provide community safety net programs in the face of targeted rate hikes on churches?

In 2002, Santee Cooper and its Board placed a heavy burden on its rate payers and the citizens of the State. Yes, our own state utility polluted the environment beyond legal limits at the Winyah power plant in Georgetown, the Grainger Plant in Conway and two other plants. The Environmental Protection Administration was successful in a suit against Santee Cooper over these Clean Air Act violations. Rate payers and citizens must shoulder the cost of paying a $2 million civil penalty, $400 million to install pollution controls, and another $4.5 million for mitigation projects.

The deadline for funds expenditure is 2012.

Our current Santee Cooper Board must avoid court costs and fines and abide by the law in the future.

Our current Santee Cooper Board should work to apply any remaining mitigation funds to increase efficiency and reduce costs in low income households. These families must be spared the traumatic impact of rate increases.

Our current Santee Cooper Board should provide leadership by addressing our desperate need for jobs, jobs, jobs. Energy efficiency measures and home-based renewables such as solar hot water heaters can generate jobs, lower the peak and lower costs to low income families.

We call on the Santee Cooper Board to act with leadership to embrace efficiency measures. In these most difficult economic times, the current Board of Santee Cooper must act to fulfill its mission to help the public and care for God’s Creation as well.

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