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Environmental Stewardship
Renewable Generation And Green Power

Santee Cooper introduced South Carolina utility customers to utility-supplied renewable electricity in 2001, when we opened South Carolina’s first Green Power Generating Station, capturing methane gas from a landfill and using it to generate electricity. Green Power is a part of Santee Cooper’s renewable generation portfolio, which today includes 106 MWs online or under contract including landfill gas, solar, wind and biomass.

Coastal Carolina University solar panel-topped bus shelters

> Santee Cooper also introduced solar power to the state’s electric grid, we introduced wind power to the state grid, and we brought South Carolina its first community solar farm. 

> In 2015, Santee Cooper generated its 1 millionth MWH of renewable Green Power from South Carolina landfill gas, solar and wind resources.

> Santee Cooper sells Green Power to customers on a voluntary basis and reinvests proceeds into additional renewable generation and demonstration projects like Green Power Solar Schools and Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand Solar Station. We are growing renewable generation through voluntary customer support.

> Santee Cooper Green Power powers some of the state’s best-known sports events, including the PGA’s RBC Heritage Golf Tournament, NASCAR’s Bojangles’ Southern 500, and several NCAA football games.

> Santee Cooper was the first utility in the state to pursue onshore and offshore wind mapping, research and demonstration efforts, starting in 2005.

> Santee Cooper introduced wind power to the grid in 2010 when we dedicated a small wind turbine in North Myrtle Beach, part of our Wind Education Project designed to show the viability of wind power and promote awareness of it.

We announced new programs in 2009 to help customers use less of our primary product: electricity. Through Reduce The Use, we offer rebates and other incentives to help customer make energy efficiency improvements, save energy and save money. It’s working: we’re already helping customers save more than 180 million kilowatt-hours a year, with programs like:

> Smart Energy Loans: low-interest loans that help customers make their homes more energy efficient and also help install renewable generation, like solar panels

> Giveaway programs for energy-efficient compact fluorescent and LED bulbs

> Free online and in-home energy check-ups to help customers find ways to be more energy efficient and save money on their power bills

> Rebates to help customers install efficient HVAC systems, lighting, refrigeration systems and other energy-efficient products at home and work

Lakes and Lake Management

The Santee Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation Project was created to impound the Santee River, transform its power into electricity and spark prosperity in Depression-ravaged rural South Carolina. What was the largest earth-moving project in history resulted in the creation of Lakes Marion and Moultrie, 170,000 acres of natural paradise spanning sections of Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg and Sumter counties. Lakes Marion and Moultrie are South Carolina’s largest freshwater resource and Santee Cooper has worked to protect these reservoirs since they were completed in 1942. Maintaining the water quality is important to preserving the natural habitat and to ensuring a safe water source for Santee Cooper’s two water systems on the lakes. Managing the lakes is also important for area tourism: the lakes host attractions and draw events including the many major fishing tournaments held there each year.

Lake Moultrie

> The Santee Cooper Lakes cover 170,000 acres in five counties and are bordered by 40 miles of dams and dikes maintained by Santee Cooper and 450 miles of shoreline.

> Santee Cooper analyzes monthly samples from 48 water quality monitoring stations and shares data with state and federal agencies.

> Santee Cooper actively works to control invasive weeds that, left unchecked, could block recreational and navigational ability on the lakes. These weeds include hydrilla, crested floating heart, water hyacinth and the newest invasive threat, giant Salvinia.

> Santee Cooper’s vector (mosquito) management program was the driving force in eliminating malaria from the area in the early 1950s. We continue efforts to control nuisance and disease-carrying mosquitoes today.

Old Santee Canal Park
The Stony Landing House (left), and the Interpretive Center at Old Santee Canal Park
Old Santee Canal Park

> This 195-acre historical and natural jewel in the heart of Moncks Corner features an Interpretive Center, theater and classroom, and hosts schoolchildren from across the Lowcountry for various field trips and educational seminars. Santee Cooper financed construction of Old Santee Canal Park, which opened in 1989, and we assumed ownership and operation of the park in 1999. The park offers environmental programs that emphasize the vast diversity of plant and animal life native to the area and found throughout the park.

> History and other educational programs offered include tours of the Stony Landing House, a circa-1843 farm house with a rich history entwined with the Lowcountry, and an Interpretive Center chronicling the area’s history as far back as 4000 B.C.

> The park hosts four miles of boardwalk and hiking trails along Biggin Creek and parallel to the Tailrace Canal. There is also a large floating dock that provides access and recreation to boaters, kayakers and canoers.

> Old Santee Canal Park is home to the Berkeley County Museum and Heritage Center.

Santee Cooper supports wildlife habitat management that increases plant diversity and enhances wildlife habitats. We use EPA-approved herbicides to control undesirable woody vegetation that can interfere with the delivery of electricity as well as invade natural wildlife habitats.

> Santee Cooper works with Heritage Trust Programs such as the Longleaf Pine Heritage and the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage to ensure that the management of transmission rights of way crossing those preserves protects natural habitats.

> We work closely with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to manage the lakes and surrounding property, including more than 18,000 acres of fisheries and state wildlife management areas. Santee Cooper also supports the 15,000-acre Santee National Wildlife Refuge in Clarendon County.

Sea Turtle Protection

Since 1990, Santee Cooper has joined forces with S.C.U.T.E. (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts) and other organizations to preserve and protect loggerhead sea turtles in Georgetown and Horry counties. 

> We raise awareness through public education programs, social media campaigns and signage placed on the beach that lets  visitors know to turn off oceanfront lights after dusk, pick up trash and other items from the beach, and fill in holes.

> We provide free “Lights Out” bumper stickers to Grand Strand residents and visitors, helping educate people about how to protect the state reptile.

> We also collaborate with property rental agencies to provide information about sea turtle protection to Grand Strand visitors at check-in.  

Kendall Blaine, 2015 environmental intern from Clemson University, uses a distilling machine in the preparatory lab in the Analytical and Biological Services building.
Environmental Intern Program

> Since 1990, Santee Cooper has hosted nearly 300 college students through its Environmental Intern Program.

> Eleven state and federal elected officials and the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina each appoint a qualified student during this competitive process.

> Interns rotate through nine areas (three areas each) offering Santee Cooper environmental stewardship programs, to learn about the utility’s role in balancing generation, transmission and distribution of electricity with the opportunities and challenges of renewable energy and other matters. Areas of rotation include Air & Water Quality, Analytical & Biological Services, Coal Combustion Products & Waste Management, Investment Recovery, Property Management, Old Santee Canal Park, Renewable Energy, Right-of-Way Management, and Vector Management.

Scene from the Lake Moultrie Passage of the Palmetto Trail.
Palmetto Trail

The Palmetto Trail, stretching from the Lowcountry to the Upstate, is a hiking, biking and camping pathway enabling users to experience dozens of habitats and ecosystems throughout the state. Santee Cooper built 79 miles of the trail.

> Santee Cooper built the trail’s first section, the 26-mile Lake Moultrie Passage, which opened in January 1996 and created widespread access for hikers and cyclists to some of the most beautiful vistas around the lake.

> Santee Cooper constructed two additional sections: the 20-mile Eutaw Springs Passage and the 33-mile Lake Marion Passage.

Recycling

> Santee Cooper built the trail’s first section, the 26-mile Lake Moultrie Passage, which opened in January 1996 and created widespread access for hikers and cyclists to some of the most beautiful vistas around the lake.

> Santee Cooper constructed two additional sections: the 20-mile Eutaw Springs Passage and the 33-mile Lake Marion Passage.

Santee Cooper’s recycling initiatives have been widely recognized and continue to positively impact South Carolina. Santee Cooper is a former ‘Recycler of the Year’, named by the S.C. Department of Commerce and S.C. Recycling Market Development Advisory Council to recognize the utility’s efforts to recycle everything from used motor oil (and convert into electricity) to coal ash and office waste.


GOFER

> In 1990, we worked with SC DHEC and started Give Oil for Energy Recovery (GOFER) to help South Carolinians dispose of used motor oil properly without threat to groundwater.

> Santee Cooper continues to collect used oil and recycle or reuse it to generate electricity.  We’ve recycled more than 30 million gallons from all 46 counties of the state.

> Through this program, Santee Cooper has received numerous state and national awards. GOFER continues to be highly valued statewide.

 

Beneficial Use of Gypsum

> Santee Cooper produces gypsum as a byproduct of our SO2 removal systems at coal-fired generating units. Almost 100% of this gypsum is beneficially used in these ways:

  • American Gypsum, a drywall manufacturer in Georgetown, uses our gypsum as a raw material for drywall
    .
  • Gypsum that doesn’t meet the exact specifics for drywall is used by the local cement   industry to produce cement.

  • Santee Cooper’s gypsum is also licensed by Clemson for use as a soil amendment. This means that farmers in South Carolina can, and do, apply gypsum to their crops. It is especially valuable for peanut production.
American Gypsum

Beneficial Use of Ash

> Santee Cooper has been recycling dry fly and bottom ash, produced as a byproduct of coal generation, since the late 1970s. It is a valued raw material used in redi-mix and concrete products. Santee Cooper’s fly ash has been used in many construction and road projects, perhaps most visibly Charleston’s Ravenel Bridge.

> More recently, we turned our focus to the ash ponds at our generating stations and developed a beneficial use program that has attracted national attention. Recovering and using pond ash requires some additional steps to make it useful to the cement and concrete industry.

> We have beneficially used more than 2.5 million tons of pond ash since launching this program in 2014. This program is environmentally beneficial because it removes the ash and recyclers encapsulate it. It is economically beneficial because it creates jobs and it provides manufacturers with a raw material. And it is a cost-effective way to handle our pond ash, which benefits our customers.