More financial failure
It’s troubling that instead of paying down its $7 billion debt as promised, state-owned utility Santee Cooper is taking out additional loans. Last year, it had to borrow $100 million, and at a recent Santee Cooper board meeting, it was revealed the utility would need to borrow another $100 million this year.
At this rate, Santee Cooper will be mired in debt forever. To pay back all of the existing debt with interest will cost ratepayers $14 billion, most surely through much higher rates over decades.
Santee Cooper doesn’t seem to have a viable “reform” plan. An independent analysis of the plan by economists at Clemson Economics Associates used Santee Cooper’s own financial assumptions and calculated the utility will lose at least $525 million through 2029.
It’s my hope our legislators take a much harder look at the viability of Santee Cooper and the cost to ratepayers of even more financial failure.
Larry Kelley, Summerton
Priorities for blind in S.C.
As South Carolina legislators and other elected officials ponder their respective agendas, we want to chime in with priorities from the blind community. While we have enjoyed progress in recent years thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act and other measures, much more still needs to be done to ensure that people who are blind enjoy full inclusion, equality and justice.
Our unemployment numbers, for example, are much greater than those of our sighted counterparts. National statistics show that the unemployment rate for people who are blind or visually impaired hovers around 70%.
Accordingly, we would like to propose that both state and local governments commit to hiring more individuals who are blind. We would also like to see them strongly encourage private businesses to do the same. Along these lines, we want blind businessmen and entrepreneurs to have the same opportunities and access to grants and other incentives that minority and female-owned businesses currently receive.
To help make this happen, we strongly urge that the government and private sectors include the blind or visually impaired as a category under the Minority and the Minority Business Enterprise classifications. These steps could help break down the economic and social barriers that still exist for too many in our community. Their adoption could help propel us to the more just society we all should strive for!
Ed Bible, chair, Legislative Committee, National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, Columbia