Pinopolis, SC (WLTX) — The Santee Cooper Board of Directors approved a $2.1 billion budget for 2019 this morning. Here are highlights of the Dec. 10 Board of Directors Meeting held at the Wampee Conference Center in Pinopolis.

  • Vanry Associates consulting firm was asked to look at the organizational structure of Santee Cooper versus other same or similar sized utility companies and give recommendations for improvement. Pamela Williams, senior vice president for corporate services at Santee Cooper, says the Vanry assessment suggests reviewing the responsibilities of executive titles and re-classify some jobs and positions. There are currently 13 vice president positions at Santee Cooper.

  • Dan Ray was nominated as First Vice Chairman of the Board to replace outgoing chairman William Finn, and David Singleton was nominated as Second Vice Chair to replace Barry Wynn.

  • Santee Cooper has projected 3 percent growth from 2019 to 2021. There is no proposed consumer rate increase for 2019 or 2020. However, there is a predicted need of an increase of 7 percent over a four year period starting in 2021.

  • Santee Cooper has been rated AA by Moody’s, A+ by S&P, and -A by Fitch.

  • Presentation of resolutions for the Santee Cooper 2018 budget revision and budget approval for 2019, 2020, and 2021 were given -- and the budgets were approved. The 2019 budget includes $1.7 billion for the electric system, 9.9 million for water systems, and $296.9 million for capital expenditures.

  • The Santee Cooper budget for legal representation in 2018 exceeded the budget by $6 million due to unforeseen actions brought on by the VC Summer/SCE&G dispute.

The 2018 budget was $2.143 million and Santee Cooper paid out $8-9 million in legal fees.

Newly appointed Board Chairman Charlie Condon questioned possible payments made to criminal defense lawyers for defending former Santee Cooper board members, and requested looking into negotiating the rate of approximately $495/hour paid to some law firms.

In 2019 the proposed budget for legal affairs is $9 million. Historically, the annual legal affairs budget has been $2 million.

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  • The solar program has been a success and Santee Cooper proposes tiered rebates for new 2019 rooftop homes. For the first 150 new rooftop solar participants, the rebate would be $1,200/kW up to 6kW; the next 50 would have rebates of $900/kW up to 6kW; the next 50 would have rebates of $600/kW up to 6kW.

  • James Brogdon, Interim President and CEO, presented the President’s Report that included the plan for removing remaining ash from Ash Pond 2 at Grainger power station in Conway by Spring 2019. Flood waters from September 2018 storms had threatened to overflow Grainger and send ash and other contaminants into the Waccamaw River.

  • Stating that Santee Cooper was a “very complex business,” Condon asked the board to consider holding more meetings during the upcoming year, using conference call technology for those who might not be able to attend meetings in person.