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 30% over the next decade.
We are increasing energy efficiency. We are rolling out new energy management programs that give our customers more control over their energy consumption.
(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.