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A dark and stormy legislative session looms in the state with plenty of hair-raising issues coming in 2020, and the scariest may be what to do with state-owned utility Santee Cooper, according to some legislators.

“The most significant (issue), that is the most complex, is whether or not to sell Santee Cooper, whether to have a management team come in or an alternative to that is to enact some reforms,” Beaufort County Republican Sen. Tom Davis said. “The implications of what we do will have an effect for decades to come.”

The state-owned utility lost big and cut its losses in 2017 on part-ownership of a $9 billion nuclear plant investment. In 2020, lawmakers will decide the utility’s fate.

It’s a move that could have big impacts on electric bills and the environment in the Lowcountry and the state. Santee Cooper directly serves some customers in the region, and also provides power to Berkeley Electric Cooperative and Edisto Electric Cooperative.

In the spirit of Halloween, Statehouse Report called more than 30 lawmakers to ask them what was the scariest thing coming to the Statehouse in 2020. Read the full story at statehousereport.com.

Orangeburg Democratic Sen. Brad Hutto called Santee Cooper “a big deal” and listed it at the top of the scariest things coming to Columbia in 2020.

“That’s probably the thing that has the biggest potential of long-term consequences for the state,” he said.

Senate Education Chair Greg Hembree (R-Horry) said he’s worried about pressure from lobbyists and their sway over the General Assembly. Many of those lobbyists will be pushing hard for a sale.

“I don’t know if we always make the best decision with that much pressure,” he said. “The scary part is if we don’t make a good decision because of that effort.”

Hembree expected lobbying activity to hit a “fever pitch” in February and March, about the time House and Senate committees are expected to make recommendations about Santee Cooper’s fate. —Lindsay Street