Carolina Forest HOA says they’ve paid $1.3 million to rent Santee Cooper light poles

Carolina Forest HOA says they’ve paid $1.3 million to rent Santee Cooper light poles

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - More than a dozen homeowners associations from around Horry County showed up for a meeting Thursday night to find out if they’re spending thousands of dollars to rent light poles.

This comes after the Plantation Lakes HOA announced they would be holding a meeting after doing the math and realizing they were paying thousands of dollars each month to Santee Cooper to rent the light poles within their community.

There are 220 light poles throughout Plantation Lakes and members say the monthly rental cost over the last 14 years has added up to more than $1 million dollars.

“They charge $22.30 for the poles in our neighborhood," Timothy McGinnis, the Horry County state representative, said. "They charge $15.77 for the light fixture in our neighborhood; this is per pole.”

McGinnis lives in this community and he said the HOA currently has a few options to reduce the cost they pay each month. They are: continue paying the existing rates; downgrade and incur the cost of removing the poles; or purchase lights in the neighborhood.

“You can continue paying the rates you pay. You can downgrade, now as you pointed out Bob if you downgrade that incurs the cost of its own because you have to take out the poles. You can purchase the lights in your neighborhood. If you do this, then you take on the cost of maintenance and repairing any fixtures as needed,” he said.

The problem with the latter, according to McGinnis, is they haven’t met in more that two years.

When it comes to other HOAs, Bob Sweet, chairman of Plantation Lakes’ light pole committee, urges them to take a closer look at what they’re paying because it may surprise them.

“Get your recent statements and find out exactly what you’re paying,” Sweet said. “Make certain that you combine the listing for street lights and poles. It’s two separate listings; make sure you combine those. If you don’t combine them both then you are not going to get the accurate number that you’re paying.”

McGinnis added that maybe some of the issues they're now facing stems back to when the neighborhood first began.

“The Santee Cooper people are not out trying to gouge you. You know, part of this, I think, has to go back to the developers and to the deals that they struck when they struck them. They gave us the Mercedes of light poles,” said McGinnis.

He also said a major player in all of this is whether or not Santee Cooper is sold. If it is, the HOAs would be able to negotiate new terms with the new electricity provider.

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