Ex-Santee Cooper Lawyer Returns to Run Utility

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s state-owned utility is bringing back a familiar face to temporarily lead the company as it deals with the problems created by a failed $10 billion nuclear power plant project.

James Brogdon Jr. was named interim president and CEO of Santee Cooper by the utility’s board Friday.

Brogdon worked for Santee Cooper for nearly a decade as a corporate lawyer and executive vice president before retiring in 2014. He also is a former state Circuit Court judge.

Brogdon will take over for current Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter, who announced his retirement in August after the utility and its majority partner in the nuclear project, South Carolina Electric & Gas, announced they were ending construction on two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer plant.

The utilities have spent nearly $10 billion on the new reactors, with $2 billion of it coming directly from ratepayers who never saw a kilowatt of power generated.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who is trying to sell Santee Cooper, had a different candidate. He said he wanted attorney Steve Hamm, the current interim director of the state ethics agency, to get the Santee Cooper job because Hamm would be “an agent of change.”

The board gets to choose Santee Cooper’s president and CEO, but the governor appoints all of Santee Cooper’s board members.

“Governor McMaster is hopeful that today’s decision by the Santee Cooper board will be a positive step toward determining a future for the utility — one that best serves their ratepayers and the taxpayers of the state,” McMaster’s spokesman Brian Symmes said in a statement.

Santee Cooper Board Chairman Leighton Lord did not reference the failed plant or any dustup with the governor when explaining why members chose Brogdon, instead saying he is well known to the company and the power sector.

“He understands the important role Santee Cooper plays as a public power utility serving South Carolina and our primary duties to provide low-cost, reliable electricity and water, provide excellent customer service and promote economic development,” Lord said in a statement.

The board also on Friday named Marc Tye as Santee Cooper’s new COO. He had been the utility’s executive vice president of competitive markets and generation, and has worked with the utility since 1984.

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