Santee Cooper’s electric costs are lower than state and national averages, and customers can expect further improvements as we transform our power supply portfolio to be more sustainable.
We are delivering low rates. Modernizing our system and adding cheaper solar power will help provide years of stable prices for customers. We expect our transformed power supply to provide meaningful savings that also help pay down debt.
We are expanding solar energy. Santee Cooper was the first to put solar power on the South Carolina grid, in 2006. We are continuing to build out that legacy to make South Carolina a leader in renewable and solar energy with plans to add up to 1,500 megawatts (MW) of new solar power divided into smaller projects across the state.
We are reducing our carbon footprint. The aggressive addition of new solar power will parallel our closing of Winyah Generating Station, a coal-fired station. We will also bring online new battery storage, to help us make the most of the additional solar power. These steps will reduce our carbon emissions by about 55% compared to the 2005 baseline.
We are increasing energy efficiency. We are rolling out new energy management programs that give our customers more control over their energy consumption.
(June 23, 2021) Santee Cooper has contracted for its share of 425 megawatts (MW) of new utility-scale solar power that will be added to the utility system in 2023, through several projects to be built across a wide swath of South Carolina. The 425 MW is equal to nearly 40% of the currently installed solar capacity in the state.
We executed purchased power agreements for approximately 27.5% of the output of projects to be developed by Silicon Ranch, Birdseye Renewable Energy, Ecoplexus, and Johnson Development Associates. Central Electric Power Cooperative, Santee Cooper’s largest customer, has finalized contracts with the same developers for the remaining share.
Read more in the press release.
(April 27, 2021) The Camp Hall wetlands project is the latest commitment by Santee Cooper to return property it owns to its native origin, erasing industrial impacts and even improving on its original condition. It currently reached a milestone in its wetland restoration efforts, with the planting of 80,000 oak seedlings on 164 acres this winter.
A similar effort is underway in Conway, South Carolina, where we are restoring approximately 380 acres that include excavated and cleaned former ash ponds and an industrial cooling pond. Read the press release.
(April 14, 2021) When Santee Cooper’s Grand Strand Solar Station came online a decade ago, it was the largest solar power installation in South Carolina at 311 kilowatts and represented a 35% increase in total solar capacity for the state. While Santee Cooper’s commitment to solar started early, the utility has come a long way since then, with a total of 712 MW solar power online or under contract today to serve the combined system. Read the press release.
(March 29, 2021) The RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing continues its long streak of environmental efforts by teaming up with Palmetto Electric Cooperative and Santee Cooper to power the state’s largest sporting event with 100% homegrown, environmentally sound Green Power. Read the press release.
(March 29, 2021) The Southeast Energy Exchange Market (SEEM) has created www.southeastenergymarket.com to share information about the organization. Here you will find regulatory filings, press releases, selected news articles from utility trades and mainstream media, and frequently asked questions.
In February, SEEM members filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the approval of an automated, intra-hour energy exchange that aims to lower costs to customers and optimize renewable energy resources. Santee Cooper will make a decision about whether to join SEEM following a FERC decision on the filing.
(March 22, 2021) The Santee Cooper Board of Directors approved a retirement deadline for all Winyah Generating Station units that aligns with new regulatory requirements. Santee Cooper anticipates retiring the four Winyah units by the end of 2027. The Board action requires retiring the station no later than Dec. 31, 2028, which complies with new environmental regulations.
(January 25, 2021) Central and Santee Cooper recently completed contracts to bring 425 MW of solar energy to South Carolina by 2023 and continue to negotiate on another project that would bring that total to 500 MW. Santee Cooper and Central are contracting separately on each project for their respective load ratios. These fixed-price contracts mean Santee Cooper pays only for energy received, result in no additional debt, protect customers from fuel-price volatility, lower our carbon footprint and provide a financial hedge against potential future carbon legislation. All projects are located within South Carolina and are expected to be operational in 2023. This is the first phase of solar in our long-term sustainability goals which include 1,500 MW of solar and 200 MW of storage by the early 2030s.
(January 14, 2021) As part of its new EmpowerSC energy-efficiency initiative, Santee Cooper is offering rebates of up to $500 for the purchase and installation of a qualifying level 2 charging station. EmpowerAuto also provides information on choosing an electric vehicle, different types of charging stations and Federal incentives. Visit www.empowersc.com for more information.
(January 12, 2021) Santee Cooper recently introduced EmpowerSC – an initiative to help customers take advantage of the latest technology trends and innovations by providing insight, expertise, resources and rebates, which can put money back in their pockets.
EmpowerSC includes four main focuses: auto; home; business and solar. Each of these target specific areas of energy savings and include new offerings such as the expansion of many programs from single- to multi-family homes like apartments and condominiums. Visit EmpowerSC.com for more information.
(December 31, 2020) As outlined in our plan to close Winyah Generating Station by the end of 2027, Winyah’s Unit 4 has been idled. This is the first step in a process that includes closing Units 3 and 4 by the end of 2023 and the remaining units by December 2027.
(December 14, 2020) Moving forward with steps needed to retire Winyah Generating Station and achieve additional savings, the Santee Cooper Board of Directors approved installing 20 MW of generation in Horry County. This 20 MW will be used in emergency situations, for system reliability, once Units 3 and 4 are fully retired in 2023 (Unit 4 will be idled on Dec. 31, 2020). We are repurposing diesel generators from the V.C. Summer project. This is phase one of a two-phase plan that will ultimately provide 50 MW of generation at the Horry site. The projects represent the lowest cost and quickest path to help support Winyah retirement. Learn more about our new resource plan here.
(December 7, 2020) The Santee Cooper Board of Directors authorized management to execute contracts for Santee Cooper’s share of up to 500 megawatts (MW) of new, utility-scale solar power projects which, when installed, will yield $12 million in annual savings for customers.
Santee Cooper and our largest customer, Central Electric Power Cooperative, issued a request for proposals (RFP) in June and have reviewed the 21 responses to determine the projects with the best savings and benefits for customers.
Read more in the press release.
(October 22, 2020) Santee Cooper’s plan to transform its power supply is aggressive and underway – a dramatic evolution from a once-coal-heavy generating portfolio to one more dependent on sustainable resources. Already, work is underway to bring 500 megawatts (MW) of new solar online by 2023, part of a 1,500-MW solar expansion that will dominate Santee Cooper’s 2020s. The other major development will be retirement of the coal-fired Winyah Generating Station.
Santee Cooper’s new resource plan, as outlined in our Reform Plan and recently updated, also calls for adding 200 MW of battery storage beginning in 2026 and additional natural gas generation and purchased power. Santee Cooper will idle two units at Winyah early: Unit 4 will be idled after this winter’s peak and Unit 3, after the 2021/2022 winter peak.
“Taken together, these measures will reduce Santee Cooper carbon dioxide emissions by more than 55% compared to 2005 levels,” said Charlie Duckworth, Deputy CEO and Chief Planning and Innovation Officer.
As the pandemic hit South Carolina’s economy this year, Santee Cooper and Central Electric Power Cooperative, our largest customer, began to jointly update this resource plan, taking into consideration changing business conditions. That evaluation has affirmed its leaner, greener approach and validated its phased, modular and flexible approach.
We will continue to work with Central on specific generating decisions as the plan continues to be implemented, in accordance with our contract. Already, we are jointly evaluating bids for the first wave of new solar power and expect to award contracts in late 2020 or early 2021.
(August 3, 2020) More than 20 solar developers submitted bids responding to Central Electric Power Cooperative and Santee Cooper, who issued a joint RFP for new solar projects, by the July 30 deadline. Specifically, 21 proposers submitted bids for 56 projects, ranging from 8 MW to 150 MW in geographically diverse locations across the state. The cumulative capacity of all the proposals is around 3,600 MW.
Central and Santee Cooper issued the joint RFP on June 5, seeking proposals to add up to 500 MW of new solar capacity as part of plans to transform Santee Cooper’s power supply to one involving significantly more renewable power. Central and Santee Cooper will now analyze the proposals, a process expected to last through mid-September, and then negotiate and finalize purchased power agreements with successful bidders. Timely execution of the PPAs will provide savings and fuel price certainty during Santee Cooper’s rate freeze, which will be in place through 2024.
(July 7, 2020) Santee Cooper plans to idle Unit 4 at Winyah Generating Station by the end of 2020, which will create savings beginning this year through reduced maintenance for the unit that is already scheduled to be retired in 2023. Idling it early produces savings while keeping the unit “mothballed” and available to bring back online if needed before the scheduled retirement.
The move should save nearly $8 million in 2020.
We will fully retire Winyah and add up to 1,500 MW of solar power, part of transforming to a leaner, greener power supply that maintains reliability and saves customers billions of dollars over the next 20 years. Winyah has four coal-fired units, with two scheduled for retirement in 2023 and the remaining two in 2027. Even though we are retiring this station, Santee Cooper will remain involved in and supportive of economic development and other community priorities throughout the area.
(June 8, 2020) Santee Cooper and Central Electric Power Cooperative have launched a bid process seeking to purchase up to 500 MW of new utility-scale solar power, the first step in an aggressive rollout of new solar power in South Carolina.
Santee Cooper has sent requests for proposals (RFP) to nearly 30 solar developers. Santee Cooper and Central will work together to review bids and award contracts, and Central may choose to become a counterparty to one or more purchase agreements through this process. Contracts will target power projects of 25-125 MW each, with the developers owning the projects and Santee Cooper and Central purchasing the electric output. Central has the ability to opt out of these resources.
Bids are due July 30. Santee Cooper and Central will review the bids with a goal to wrap up negotiations with developers and begin awarding contracts later this year.
“This RFP signals Santee Cooper’s commitment to Central, and to all Santee Cooper customers, to transform our generation into a leaner, greener portfolio that increases sustainability and costs less,” said Santee Cooper President and CEO Mark Bonsall. “This is a market-driven process designed to produce the best prices and best benefits for our customers, and to do so in a manner that is open and transparent.”
The current resource plan for service of Santee Cooper’s customers includes the addition of up to 1,000 MW of new solar capacity placed into service by 2024 and up to an additional 500 MW added by 2031 (depending on the amount and timing of Santee Cooper’s load growth), all to be purchased from third-party providers and intended in part to replace some existing coal-fired generation. Read the full press release.