Santee Cooper Plays an Important Economic Development Role in South Carolina
Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
First, let’s reiterate that Santee Cooper recognizes and accepts responsibility for our current situation following the failure of the V.C. Summer project. Changes are demanded and will be implemented. That’s clear. What’s also clear is just how much so-called “policy” or “citizen” groups have misinformed the public about Santee Cooper as a utility and as an integral partner in economic development all across South Carolina.
Claims have been promoted from those whose views are ideologically different. Let’s set the record straight, with FACTS.
Ideology: Everyone is entitled to his or her own view on the role of government. Some folks believe that no government agency should have any part in recruiting industry, particularly when it comes to providing incentives. The fact is, economic development is highly competitive nationally, and South Carolina would lose out on key industries without the help of Santee Cooper, a state agency since 1934, because we provide additional incentives and support to assist the South Carolina Department of Commerce and other key state, regional and local organizations. This includes programs to help expand industries already here. When Santee Cooper sales increase through economic development efforts, all customers benefit.
FACT: Economic development is a specific duty identified as part of Santee Cooper’s statutory responsibility by the state laws that govern us.
Financial: Some are falsely claiming that our current debt should dictate that we stop financially supporting economic development activity. They claim we are not financially able to continue providing loans and grants to local groups, electric cooperatives, or others to help attract industry and jobs.
FACT: Our debt-to-equity ratio is in line with other public power utilities and has no impact on our ability to continue supporting economic development. Economic development support is part of our budget, and we recover our investments through repayment of the loans we make, as well as through energy sales to the industries these incentives attract. We support efforts that others either can’t or won’t, and we are able to effectively partner with local governments, regional economic development entities, electric cooperatives, and the Department of Commerce. Our incentives, loans, and real estate acquisitions are important to the state’s growth.
History: Our efforts have helped secure over $15 billion in capital investment and over 80,000 new jobs for the people of South Carolina.
Here are a few recent highlights:
Nucor Steel in Berkeley County: Our ability to provide low-cost, reliable electricity was a key part of Nucor’s decision to locate in South Carolina in 1995. Today, Nucor employs more than 960 people at that plant.
Volvo in Berkeley County: In 2015, Santee Cooper purchased a 6,800-acre tract in rural Berkeley County and sold acreage to the county to use as an incentive in the deal. Santee Cooper also provided incentive grants and loans to government partners to help lure Volvo. Water for the plant comes from Santee Cooper’s Lake Moultrie Regional Water System via Berkeley County Water and Sanitation, and Edisto Electric Cooperative delivers power to the plant. All told, Volvo plans to invest more than $1 billion and create 3,900 jobs there. Meanwhile, Santee Cooper is leading development of the remaining acreage as the Camp Hall commerce park, and just recently announced the closing by leading developer Exeter Property Group on a 77-acre tract there.
Samsung in Newberry County: A $2.75 million Santee Cooper incentive in partnership with Newberry Electric Cooperative helped secure $380 million in investment and 954 new jobs in 2017.
Inland Port in Dillon County: With our financial support ($15 million loan, $5 million grant) in partnership with Marlboro Electric Cooperative, the Inland Port Dillon was dedicated in 2018 and has already created hundreds of jobs.
Through our economic development loan and grant programs, we’ve provided over $100 million (including $80 million in loans) to date. That is a direct investment into the economy and growth of our state. That is a direct investment into thousands of jobs in all parts of South Carolina. Those are the facts.