The Orangeburg Times and Democrat ran a column, “Lakes asset is at risk,” from the leaders of the Santee Cooper Counties Promotion Commission.
They wrote that a sale of Santee Cooper to an investor-owned utility could endanger Lakes Marion and Moultrie. Santee Cooper is licensee. The claim: Only Santee Cooper – with no free-enterprise incentive, still run almost entirely by former managers – can appreciate these treasures.
What happens to lakes when regulated lakes change hands?
The new lake licensee must follow the same rules as the old licensee. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, lake regulator, told Energy Consumers of the Carolinas, “To transfer a license, the licensee and designated transferee must jointly or severally file an application for approval with the commission. When a transfer occurs, the new licensee must comply with the terms and conditions of the existing license.”
The Promotion Commission claims Santee Cooper goes beyond FERC requirements. In fact, Santee Cooper has not updated its lakes license since 2006. Meanwhile, a Carolina IOU has relicensed an entire lake and river system complete with a comprehensive relicensing agreement signed by South Carolina agencies including the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, as well as local cities, towns and counties that share the lake and river resources.
Utilities must file Shoreline Management Plans. Check how robust these SMPs are from Carolina IOUs.
• Duke Energy – Catawba - Wateree.
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• Duke – Yadkin-Pee-Dee.
• Dominion - Lake Murray.
IOU SMPs show:
• Continuity, stability.
• Exceptional planning and execution.
• FERC diligence in oversight.
IOUs operate with stringent oversight, more than Santee Cooper.
The lakes are important, secure, protected by FERC, S.C. state agencies and various laws. Among them: Federal Power Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
As some organizations may say, however, “Facts are facts.” In the end, lakes are long-term, protected assets, not because of Santee Cooper, but due to the state and federal regulatory oversight that will continue to govern their care.