Decisions made in 2013 will impact Santee Cooper’s financial stability, longevity, value and environmental stewardship for years to come.
In 2013, Santee Cooper struck a harmonious chord with its biggest customer and partner, Central Electric Power Cooperative, with the signing of a multi-billion dollar, cost-saving extension to the coordination agreement between our organizations.
The agreement allowed Santee Cooper to complete a sale of $1.8 billion in bonds in the fall, giving us the ability to issue new debt and restructure a portion of our old debt at attractive rates. Santee Cooper realized $48 million in debt savings in 2013 as a result.
Santee Cooper also cut $31.8 million from our non-fuel Operating & Maintenance budget, the result of employees strictly managing and prioritizing costs. We also saved $39.7 million in fuel costs from new initiatives implemented in 2013.
In late 2013, Santee Cooper signed new contracts with the city of Georgetown and Bamberg Board of Public Works. We are proud to continue to serve these municipalities and their residents.
Santee Cooper has the highest credit ratings among electric utilities serving South Carolina, with an AA- from Fitch and Standard & Poor’s and an A1 from Moody’s. Our debt-to-equity ratio remains solid at 75/25.
Santee Cooper completed $1.8 billion in bond sales in 2013.
Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) are working together to build two new nuclear units that will generate clean energy at V.C. Summer Nuclear Generation Station. In March, we hit a major milestone when we completed the first new construction nuclear concrete to be placed in the United States in three decades.
Nuclear power is virtually emissions free and adds generating diversity to our fuel mix, allowing us to have additional flexibility with a more balanced ratio of coal, natural gas and nuclear generation.
Bringing industry and good jobs to the state helps improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians. In 2013, Santee Cooper invested $20.7 million in the future of our state through economic development infrastructure loans to economic development officials and localities in our direct-serve territory and in areas served by our wholesale customers.
The loan program, approved in 2012, helps close deals and land new jobs. The loans will help build roads, industrial buildings and other infrastructure, adding value with an unlimited payback to the state and the people of South Carolina.
The year 2013 brought with it a score of new ideas and innovation, including a plan to use the ash currently located in ash ponds at Jefferies, Winyah and Grainger generating stations for beneficial purposes.
Beneficial use of ponded ash will provide essential material to concrete and ready mix manufacturers. By working with local manufacturers that utilize coal ash in their products, we plan to empty the ash ponds over the next 10 to 15 years.
The plan is cost-effective, which means it is responsive to our customers’ best interests. It utilizes groundbreaking technology to help an important South Carolina industry be sustainable. And it is an EPA-approved use of ash.
Santee Cooper also increased renewable generation available to our customers. In September, Santee Cooper and Central Electric Power Cooperative agreed to bring online a 3 megawatt solar farm, the state’s largest. We contracted with a subsidiary of The InterTech Group to build and operate the solar farm, which came online in December. We are purchasing that electricity and using generation data from the farm to learn how to integrate utility-scale solar power into a complex power system.
Santee Cooper worked throughout 2013 to enrich our relationships with electric cooperatives, municipalities, businesses and people of South Carolina, composing a strong, innovative, and reliable future for us all.
That’s music to our ears.
© 2014 Santee Cooper