This week, the House passed two bills dealing with Santee Cooper: one that creates a legislative oversight committee for the state-owned utility, and one that instructs the Santee Cooper joint study committee to oversee the process of selling it.
The problem with both bills? That neither oversight nor the selling process is the role of the legislature – in fact, the legislative committee is the biggest obstacle to a truly beneficial sale of the taxpayers’ asset.
An alternative already exists, however, in the Santee Cooper advisory board created by state law and comprised of five constitutional officers (including the Governor). This advisory board (despite never having met to discuss the V.C. Summer debacle) is statutorily charged and empowered both to oversee the utility, and to gather the information needed to sell it. The fact that all five members are elected statewide makes the board’s actions accountable to every citizen – unlike the legislative alternatives.
The only way to sell Santee Cooper in a transparent, accountable way is for this board to be in charge of the process. In the meantime, the board should step up to the plate and begin exercising oversight immediately.
No V.C. Summer concerns raised by obscure state panel that includes governor
During the years-long V.C. Summer nuclear project, a little-known committee including the governor and four other elected statewide officials never met once to discuss the now-abandoned project.
And despite all the controversy surrounding the $9 billion debacle, the Santee Cooper advisory board – made up of the governor, attorney general, comptroller general, treasurer and secretary of state – still hasn’t met to this day.
Under state law, the advisory board “must consult and advise with” the 12-member Santee Cooper board of directors “on any and all matters which by the board of directors may be referred to the advisory board.”