Bennettsville, S.C. – November 18, 2020 – Faced with paying consistently inflated electricity rates and seeking more local control, Marlboro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (MEC) today announced it filed a lawsuit to establish a fair and equitable exit charge to withdraw from Central Electric Power Cooperative (Central).
“For many years, as a direct consequence of decisions Central has made, MEC and its members have been saddled with paying materially higher costs for electricity than what MEC could obtain from other providers on the open market,” said William Fleming, President and CEO of MEC. “MEC has a responsibility to its members to evaluate its options for obtaining electricity.”
Even though Central says publicly that it subscribes to the cooperative principle of open and voluntary membership, the lawsuit comes only after Central refused to provide MEC with a fair and equitable exit charge. As a result, according to Fleming, MEC is “asking to establish a fair and equitable exit charge that allows MEC to pay its fair share to leave Central and have the freedom to make independent decisions that will provide our members with more affordable and equally reliable power.”
The lawsuit has widespread implications for the residents of Marlboro and Dillon Counties, as Central’s actions are impeding economic development there. Central’s actions have cost jobs, threaten those that remain, and impact directly some of South Carolina’s most economically disadvantaged consumers who struggle to make ends meet throughout the entire state.
The energy landscape in South Carolina and throughout the U.S. is changing. It should therefore come as no surprise that MEC and cooperatives like it across the country are challenging the Generation and Transmission model. “MEC simply wants more flexibility and local control to benefit its members by further reducing costs after getting out from the inflated and restrictive contracts that have been holding us back for years,” said Fleming.
“MEC will continue to strive to provide the lowest rates for electricity for our residential and industrial consumers. Prevailing against an unnecessary middle-man (Central) that uses MEC’s members to subsidize itself and the other utilities is a responsibility we take very seriously.”