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Senate committee weighs possible options for selling Santee Cooper

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COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) --- On Wednesday, a Senate committee assessed Santee Cooper's assets, bonds, and other properties trying to come up with a value of the company if it were to be sold.

Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter said the state-owned utility is nearly 80 percent in debt and rates would have to increase again to pay off debtors.

Right now, twelve Santee Cooper board members oversee rate increases and ultimately decide how much debt the company racks up. The big question for lawmakers is would it be better to keep the company or sell it.

"What we've been talking about is the debt that's out there and how customers are on the hook to pay that debt back,” Senator Shane Massey said. “And there is not really a whole lot that we can do to give them relief, I don't know how you give them relief unless you sell Santee Cooper at this point."

This comes on the same day as House Speaker Jay Lucas and Senate President Hugh Leatherman sent Governor Henry McMaster a letter Wednesday, pressing for an independent valuation of Santee Cooper, they said they need that information before they are asked to approve the sale of the state-owned utility.

The governor responded saying, "He looks forward to working together to solve this critical issue."

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