Santee Cooper: the excellent work of the leaders deserves 6 more months

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Santee Cooper’s board has agreed to ask two hired executives to overhaul and stabilize the state-owned company to keep their jobs for another six months.

The board of directors also voted on Monday to reward Santee Cooper CEO Mark Bonsall and deputy CEO Charles Duckworth with more than $ 400,000 in bonuses after the public service achieved nearly all of the goals listed in the strategic plan for the company, reported The Post and Courier of Charleston.

Bonsall and Duckworth’s current contract ended on July 7. The new contracts last six months longer at their same wages. Bonsall is paid $ 1.1 million per year and Duckworth earns $ 560,000 per year.

Santee Cooper hit 97% of her performance targets, so the board agreed on Monday to stick to her deal and pay Bonsall a bonus of $ 242,500 and Duckworth $ 160,050.

“There is no doubt in my mind that every penny has been earned,” said David Singleton of Horry County, who chairs the Public Service Human Resources Committee.

Under a law passed by the South Carolina General Assembly that revised Santee Cooper, the State Fiscal Accountability Authority must approve six-month contract extensions and bonuses.

Bonsall and Duckworth came to Santee Cooper from a utility in Arizona after the South Carolina utility became a minority partner in a pair of nuclear reactors that never produced a watt of power. The utility ended up in billions of dollars in debt, and the governor and some lawmakers wanted to sell Santee Cooper.

But there was never enough support to sell the utility, and executives at Santee Cooper worked with the legislature to pass a recast bill that includes replacing all of the board members who sat when the nuclear project failed and gives regulators more oversight.

Bonsall said he will spend his extra time leading Santee Cooper on several goals: protecting the utility from rising natural gas costs, refinancing debt, and figuring out where to build and how to power the company’s next power plant and how the company can follow the new regulations in the reform bill.

Bonsall also thanked Santee Cooper employees and the Board of Directors for helping him solve public service issues.

“A great opportunity and I very deeply appreciate your support,” said Bonsall. “We have been partners in this progress.



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