MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (AP) — Santee Cooper Utility will freeze rates for all residential, commercial and lighting customers starting this month through December 2024.

The 4-year rate freeze stems from a settlement agreement in a class-action lawsuit filed by customers after the South Carolina utility repeatedly raised rates to fund a failed nuclear construction project. Board members of the publicly-owned utility signed off on the freeze Friday.

The company said in a news release that it would address increased costs during this time with existing cash reserves and operational savings.

Also Friday, board members approved a $165,000 performance bonus for deputy CEO Charlie Duckworth, who was hired at $560,000 last year help to oversee and modernize the beleaguered utility, which racked up $4 billion in debt after it bought a minority stake in two nuclear reactors that were never built at the V.C. Summer site north of Columbia.

The board said CEO Mark Bonsall, who received an 18-month contract at $1.1 million a year starting July 2019, declined any potential bonuses.

State lawmakers are still considering whether to sell or reform the utility, which has aimed to transition from coal to solar and other renewable energy sources.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.