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Debts due to failed V.C. Summer nuclear project balloon out, but Santee Cooper executives get big bonuses, pay rises

Santee Cooper execs get big bonuses, pay hikes, while nuclear debt mushrooms, The Nerve, February 27, 2018, By RICK BRUNDRETT 

As state-owned utility Santee Cooper was racking up billions in debt – which ratepayers are expected to shoulder – for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project, the company’s top executives were raking in huge bonuses and salary hikes.

More than $4 billion in bonds that were sold to finance the biggest financial flop in the Berkeley County-based utility’s history will have to be paid back with interest over years – to the tune of $200 million to $300 million annually.

But those I.O.U.’s are only part of the company’s overall debt load, which company records show stands at more than $15 billion. That tab will be paid back over 40 years, starting last year with payments totaling nearly a half-billion dollars.

And that means Santee Cooper’s customers likely will face rate hikes – how much is unknown – in the coming years.

Meanwhile, from 2009 through 2016 as the V.C. Summer project costs were escalating and construction deadlines were missed, the utility paid out a total of $5.6 million in bonuses to 15 executives, company records show.

Of the total bonus pool, $70,648 over the eight-year period was directly tied to the nuclear project, more than half of which was paid to recently retired president and CEO Lonnie Carter.

Carter received the highest total annual bonuses; in 2015 and in 2016 he was paid more than $330,000 in bonuses, which represented more than 60 percent of his salary for those years. During the 2009-16 period in which the V.C. Summer project was active, his yearly salary jumped 34 percent, from $404,756 to $540,929.

Besides bonuses, Santee Cooper’s top executives also received, according to a company spokeswoman, annual car allowance and life insurance benefits, which made up their total compensation. The additional perks brought Carter’s total 2016 total compensation to $894,369, a hike of about $377,000 from his 2009 compensation.

The total compensation of seven other top executives in 2016 ranged from $282,811 to $552,133, with nearly all of them receiving increases from the previous year, records show.

And Carter also received a golden parachute with his retirement last year: In addition to receiving $344,572 for life from the state retirement system, he will be paid up to $455,192 annually for 20 years through a separate executive retirement plan with the company, plus had had $858,577 in a 401(k)-type retirement plan through Santee Cooper, according to media reports…….https://thenerve.org/santee-cooper-execs-get-big-bonuses-pay-hikes-while-nuclear-debt-mushrooms/

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March 3, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA

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