Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Public (Self-)Service Authority

Santee Cooper, otherwise known as the South Caroilna Public Serivce Authority, is fond of pointing out that it is a "non profit" organization, "serving" the people of South Carolina.

Its also true that it is a state-sanctioned monopoly -- meaning it faces no competition from other businesses, it sets its own prices, it pays no taxes, it is exempt from many laws that apply to private utilities in our state. As many conservatives in our state have pointed out, Santee Cooper's situation is not unlike the way things are done in communist countries.

All of this raises the question, why would such an organization need to advertise?

Small business owners know that advertising can be an expensive necessity; a way to differentiate a business from competitors in a cutthroat marketplace.

But none of those conditions apply to Santee Cooper. Instead of "serving" the people of South Carolina, it is wasting their money on advertising.

And what are they advertising?

Their ill-considered coal plant idea.

That's right. Instead of spending money on creating the best energy efficiency program money can buy, or on renewable energy technologies, or on a public process to determine the best way to meet South Carolina's energy needs -- or even lowering residential rates -- this state-sponsored organization is spending dollars trying to pull the wool over the public's eyes with misleading ad's designed to scare us into submission.

They're trying to buy support for this coal plant with OUR money.

Don't believe me?

$650K campaign included coal plant poll

Monday, 18 February 2008
By Molly Parker, Staff Writer

Last fall, Santee Cooper paid a Charleston public relations firm more than $650,000 to promote its green initiatives and sell the need for a new coal-fired power plant in rural Florence County.

Under the umbrella of creative development and consultation services, that price tag included creation of a new Web site, and execution of a survey, which cost $57,000, to gather opinions on such topics as global warming, coal-fired power, energy demand, conservation efforts, utilities and environmental organizations.

It also tested the weight of commonly echoed arguments both for and against the coal plant.

“It looks like the goal of this survey is to figure out what messages are going to be most persuasive in convincing people that Santee Cooper needs to build a new coal plant,” said John Beasley, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

At the end of the survey, 45% of respondents said they would need more information before deciding whether to support the plant, though 57% of Florence County voters favored it. At the time the poll was conducted, from Aug. 17-21, only 27% of those surveyed had heard about the utility’s plans to build the $1 billion plant.

The Charleston Regional Business Journal obtained the survey questions and results and marketing-related expense reports through a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

In total, Santee Cooper paid $658,157 between Aug. 30 and Dec. 18 to Rawle Murdy, a marketing firm in downtown Charleston. The expenses also went toward the reation of Santee Cooper Green, an initiative the utility rolled out in December to brand the 21 existing conservation and renewable-energy programs offered by the
utility, as well as any future initiatives. The main component is the new Web site.

Santee Cooper said the cost was in line with what the state-owned utility has spent on outside marketing and advertising services for projects in the past.“We brought them on board to help us with the most critical issue facing South Carolina, and that is the issue of how do we meet the future energy needs of the state,” said Laura Varn, Santee Cooper’s vice president of corporate communications. “Are we not to communicate on such vital topics that impact the quality of life for the state?”


Ulysses Everett McGill said...

Rusty, you're just dumber than a bag of hammers!

You said "Instead of spending money on creating the best energy efficiency program money can buy, or on renewable energy technologies..." (paraphrasing) apparently Santee Cooper spent that money hatching a sinister communist plot. I will ignore that poor logic for now.

Now you may call it an unreasoning optimism. You may call it obtuse. But the plain fact is that Strom Thurmond, long known for his strong opposition to communism, was one of Santee Cooper's earliest and biggest supporters. Heck boys, just google "Strom Thurmond" and "Santee Cooper!" I like to think that I'm a pretty astute observer of the human scene. Strom, rest his soul, seemed at times a sour-assed sonofabitch and not given to acts of pointless sentimentality. If he didn't see anything wrong with Santee Cooper, I don't see why any other conservative would, and I don't see why we should waste time with your foolish innuendo on the subject.

But that was only one small part of your illogical sentence. Now, I know it's a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart, but hear me out: the very article you posted indicates that of the $650,000 Santee Cooper spent, less than one part in ten was spent on that poll. One part in ten! The article goes on to say that "the expenses also went toward the [c]reation [sic] of Santee Cooper Green, an initiative the utility rolled out in December to brand the 21 existing conservation and renewable-energy programs offered by the utility, as well as any future initiatives." Isn't this the very thing you claim to WANT Santee Cooper to spend money on? Do you read the material you post, or just foam at the mouth and slap it up here? It just never fails; once again you knuckleheads prove Hanlon's Razor by showing how much you want for intellect.

Ulysses Everett Mcgill said...

By the way, I don't really think y'all are dumb or wanting for intellect. But they were good lines and I wanted to use them. My apologies if I've offended anyone.