Santee Cooper was South Carolina's leader in generating electricity from renewable resources, offering “green power” to customers beginning in 2001. Today, we have more than 800 MW online or under contract (not counting hydroelectric power).
We have successfully done this through utilizing renewable resources that are cost-efficient and through partnering with others to bring the cost down.
Renewable generation is part of our long-term commitment to environmental stewardship — to meet more of our customers' needs with renewable energy, energy efficiency and electricity that does not emit greenhouse gases.
Our renewable portfolio stretches across the state, from Anderson and Horry counties to Bluffton. We certify some of the electricity we're generating ourselves — certain landfill biogas, solar and wind power — as Green Power. Green Power is Green-e Energy certified, which means it meets strict and specific consumer standards. We purchase our woody and agricultural biomass power from independent power producers in South Carolina who utilize sustainable procedures.
Our newest program, Santee Cooper Solar, helps customers enjoy the benefits of solar power whether they install rooftop systems or subscribe to the state's first community solar program, Solar Share. Solar Share offers Santee Cooper customers the opportunity to purchase the output from a share of the Colleton Solar Farm.
Santee Cooper Renewable Energy is made in South Carolina from South Carolina resources, and it's helping power our state forward.
Biomass is a broad category of renewable energy sources that are generated from organic matter. Common forms of biomass include forest and other wood waste, yard waste and animal waste. Santee Cooper has several contracts with independent power producers to generate biomass from wood waste and landfill gas.
As landfill waste decomposes, it produces methane gas, which can be converted into energy through a process that also reduces greenhouse-gas emissions. Santee Cooper is the only energy provider in South Carolina converting landfill methane gas into clean, homegrown electricity at six Green Power Generating Stations with a combined capacity of 28 MW.
As the name implies, woody biomass uses woody material from trees or shrubs to produce electricity. It's most often transformed to renewable energy through direct combustion, either alone or co-fired with coal. Woody biomass is often regarded as "carbon neutral," so it produces fewer net greenhouse gas emissions than traditional fossil fuels. Typically, woody biomass materials are the byproducts of various forestry operations (e.g. harvesting and thinning). Through purchase-power contracts, Santee Cooper has 74 MW of woody biomass capacity.
Santee Cooper introduced solar to the South Carolina grid in 2006, installing a 16-kW demonstration project at Coastal Carolina University in Conway. In 2008 we piloted the state’s first utility rooftop solar program with customers. We opened the first utility-scale solar installation, the Grand Strand Solar Station, in 2011. Today more than 710 MWs of solar power is online or under contract by Santee Cooper and our largest customer, Central Electric Power Cooperative, for our combined system.
Santee Cooper receives additional solar power from installations in Chesterfield, Myrtle Beach, Bucksville, Orangeburg, Colleton, Aiken, and Bluffton. We also have more than two dozen Green Power Solar Schools across the state as well, a project with the electric cooperatives of South Carolina to install 2-kW solar arrays and provide the schools a renewable energy curriculum to help students learn about renewable energy and track output from their own solar panels.
Through Solar Share — the state's first community solar program — customers can subscribe to portions of the Colleton Solar Farm's output and receive rebates and monthly energy credits. Our Solar Home and Solar Business programs offer rebates and resources to help customers add rooftop solar systems to their home or business.
Santee Cooper began studying the feasibility of wind energy in 2005 and has since worked alongside other partners in a series of research initiatives. That research shows that the best potential for generating power from the wind in South Carolina lies offshore, although best estimates indicate the cost for offshore wind generation is about twice the cost of traditional generation.
We are also exploring applications for smaller wind turbines on shore, and we made South Carolina history in November 2010 as the first utility to install a wind turbine and connect it to the grid. The 2.4-kW system is located oceanfront in North Myrtle Beach.