Johns Island Transmission Project


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Overview

Johns Island residents and businesses receive their electricity from Berkeley Electric Cooperative, which is served by Santee Cooper, and from Dominion Energy. Currently, Johns Island has only one transmission line (230kV) onto the island, making electric service on Johns Island vulnerable and more susceptible to outages, especially during storms.

This is why Berkeley Electric Cooperative, Dominion Energy and Santee Cooper have a combined need for a new transmission line on Johns Island. The Johns Island-Queensboro 115kV Transmission project will be constructed by Santee Cooper and Dominion Energy to strengthen electric reliability for Johns Island residents and businesses. This project includes construction of an additional 115kV power line and an interconnection with Dominion Energy to improve the reliability of electric power.

Santee Cooper’s portion of the project is approximately 5.1 miles in total length. Approximately 2.2 miles abuts or uses existing right of way. Approximately 2.9 miles requires new right of way. Dominion’s portion is approximately 6.1 miles. All of Dominion’s work is on existing right of way.

The project will benefit Johns Island, Seabrook, Wadmalaw and Kiawah Island residents and businesses by providing stability, increasing electric reliability, and increasing resiliency. The new line is subject to the most up-to-date standards and codes, making it more resilient than the current line, which was built in 1986.

Santee Cooper and Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions Inc., an environmental consultant, spent many months analyzing routes, environmental impacts, historical impacts, and property impacts. The chosen route and planned construction techniques minimize those impacts as much as possible. 

We conducted a public outreach meeting on Johns Island in June 2018 to talk with residents and landowners about the project. Since that time, we’ve worked with many landowners, residents, community groups and environmental groups.

Click here for a list of public outreach and see the Q&A below.

The project consists of constructing a new transmission line serving Johns Island. It will be constructed by Santee Cooper and Dominion Energy to strengthen electric reliability for Johns Island, Seabrook, Wadmalaw, and Kiawah Island residents and businesses, who are served by Berkeley Electric. The new line is subject to the most up-to-date standards and codes, making it more resilient than the current line, which was built in 1986.

Santee Cooper’s portion of the project is approximately 5.1 miles in total length. Approximately 2.2 miles abuts or uses existing right of way. Approximately 2.9 miles requires new right of way. Dominion’s portion is approximately 6.1 miles. All of Dominion’s work is on existing right of way.

See the aerial map for an overall view of the project.

Currently, Johns Island has only a single transmission line (230kV) onto the island, making the Johns Island electric service vulnerable. Electric service is especially vulnerable during storms like tornadoes. If the existing line goes out of service for any reason, Johns Island, Seabrook, Wadmalaw, and Kiawah Island residents and businesses will not have electricity until it is repaired. We have taken many costly measures to extend the life of the wooden poles on this line. Unfortunately, an extended outage is required to revitalize the line. Even small windows of time to work on individual poles would require days-long outages.

The project will benefit Johns Island, Seabrook, Wadmalaw and Kiawah Island residents and businesses by providing stability, increasing electric reliability, and increasing resiliency. The new line is subject to the most up-to-date standards and codes.

Another benefit of this project are the efficiencies realized by both Santee Cooper and Dominion Energy South Carolina. By interconnecting in this area, Santee Cooper and Dominion Energy South Carolina share the capacity of facilities and back each other up so each utility does not need to install redundant facilities to provide this capability. 

See a map of Berkeley Electric Cooperative and Dominion Energy service territories on Johns Island.

Santee Cooper and Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions Inc., an environmental consultant, spent many months analyzing several details and route options. We analyzed a number of different possible routes, environmental impacts, historical impacts, and impacts on people and property. It is important to Santee Cooper and Johns Island residents that the chosen route and planned construction techniques minimize these impacts as much as possible. The route chosen, which was amended after public input, does not displace any residents or businesses, and follows existing right of way as much as possible.

See the routes that were considered. More information is available in the Siting Study.

Santee Cooper worked with Dominion Energy to relocate the interconnection with Dominion from the Maybank Highway area to the Rushland Landing Road area. This relocation eliminates the need for new right of way and additional clearing near Fenwick Hall Plantation, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and Penny Creek. This also ensures the existing tree buffer between Dominion’s right of way and Johns Island remains in place.

The chosen route avoids critical areas and other wetlands to the maximum extent feasible. The design and construction technique minimize impacts to critical areas and other wetlands. The route is located adjacent to existing right of way where possible, which will result in less clearing and less impact. We will implement best management practices to protect freshwater and tidal wetlands. Besides the very small footprint of the transmission poles, no wetlands will be filled or destroyed because of this project.

Santee Cooper considered the potential effects of the project on all residents who may be impacted. Although the new transmission line may be visible from some houses, the location was selected to minimize impact to existing and planned homes and to minimize clearing. The existing tree cover will provide some screening of the structures and the lines.

See the overview of the project.

The transmission poles will be galvanized poles, which are silver in color and the surface becomes more matte as they age. Santee Cooper has invested much time and effort in determining the best materials for resiliency in saltwater environments. Galvanized poles have been determined to have the longest expected life with minimal maintenance costs.

We understand that visibility of the line and poles can be a concern to residents.

Santee Cooper considered the potential effects of the project on all residents who may be impacted. The proposed route does not relocate homes or businesses, parallels existing transmission line corridors where possible, and minimizes environmental impacts and the need for new rights of way. Although the new transmission line may be visible from some houses, the location was selected to minimize impact to existing and planned homes and to minimize clearing. The existing tree cover will provide some screening of the structures and the lines.

See a picture of the poles.

Santee Cooper invited the Johns Island community to a public outreach meeting on Johns Island in June 2018. Since that time, we’ve spoken to and worked individually with many landowners and residents. We also have had numerous conversations with community groups, including the Johns Island Community Task Force, and with environmental groups, including the Coastal Conservation League.

Santee Cooper employees and contractors acting on behalf of Santee Cooper have gone door-to-door to get permission to survey land for new right of way. We have these conversations with residents and landowners whose land is directly impacted by the proposed route. While we have continued to have conversations with impacted residents and landowners, community groups, and environmental groups, we have not personally contacted non-impacted Johns Island residents and landowners.

Santee Cooper believes continued community education and communication are important parts of our project planning and development. Representatives from Santee Cooper, Dominion and Berkeley Electric have met with residents, and local environmental and community groups, including Coastal Conservation League and Johns Island Task Force and given them Santee Cooper contact information if they have additional questions or concerns. Santee Cooper plans to continue meeting with impacted property owners, communities and concerned citizens.

Below is a list of meetings Santee Cooper has had with the public, residents and landowners, community groups and environmental groups:

  • Aug. 8, 2017 – Army Corp of Engineers
  • November 2017 – City of Charleston
  • Nov. 11, 2017 – Charleston County
  • March 27, 2018 – S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, OCRM Division
  • April 26, 2018 – Coastal Conservation League
  • May 1, 2018 – Notice of Public Meeting/Open House in Post & Courier
  • May 3, 2018 – Johns Island Community Association
  • May 4, 2018 – Letters mailed to impacted landowners inviting them to Public Meeting/Open House
  • May 14, 2018 – Santee Cooper distributes press release regarding Public Meeting/Open House. Press release emailed to media and posted on Santee Cooper’s website. Santee Cooper also began posting meetings on social media, as did Berkeley Electric Cooperative.
  • May 30, 2018 – Johns Island Community Association
  • June 5, 2018 – Public Meeting/Open House for Johns Island Residents and Businesses, and Santee Cooper began asking landowners for survey permits. There was media coverage of the event.
  • June 7, 2018 – Johns Island Council discussed the transmission project at their council meeting.
  • 2019 – Santee Cooper worked with individual landowners identified as having a direct impact.
  • Aug. 13, 2020 – Johns Island Task Force
  • Sept. 2, 2020 – Johns Island Task Force
  • Sept. 28, 2020 – Johns Island Task Force
  • Oct. 7, 2020 – Johns Island Task Force
  • Oct. 14, 2020 – S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, OCRM Division Virtual Public Hearing
  • Nov. 4, 2020 Johns Island Task Force

You also can download this list here.

There are a few reasons why underground lines are not being considered for this project. Underground lines can be more intrusive to the environment, depending on where they’re placed, and it’s more intrusive to the environment when they need to be repaired. Underground lines typically cost more than the amount overhead lines cost, and they would take a much longer period of time to repair when there’s an issue.

Santee Cooper conducted an extensive alternatives analysis to carefully site the new transmission line with respect to sensitive environmental, social, and cultural features with an emphasis on displacing as few residential and commercial structures as possible. And, after input from Johns Island Task Force, State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Fenwick Hall, The Preserve at Fenwick Hall, Coastal Conservation League and member of the Johns Island Community, Santee Cooper worked with Dominion Energy to relocate the interconnection with Dominion from the Maybank Highway area to the Rushland Landing Road area.

This relocation eliminates the need for new right of way and additional clearing near Fenwick Hall Plantation, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and Penny Creek. This also ensures the existing tree buffer between Dominion’s right of way and Johns Island remains in place.

The chosen route avoids critical areas and other wetlands to the maximum extent feasible. The design and construction technique minimize impacts to critical areas and other wetlands. The route is located adjacent to existing right of way where possible, which will result in less clearing and less impact. We will implement best management practices to protect freshwater and tidal wetlands. Besides the very small footprint of the transmission poles, no wetlands will be filled or destroyed because of this project.

In addition, Santee Cooper conducted a search of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and S.C. Department of Natural Resources databases and a field study. That study concluded that there will be no effect on any of the protected species known to be in the area. 

See the Siting Study.

See the Wetland Delineation Report.

See the Biological Assessment.

See the Navigable Water Permit.

Santee Cooper and Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions Inc., an environmental consultant, spent many months analyzing several details and route options. We analyzed a number of different possible routes, environmental impacts, historical impacts, and impacts on people and property.

It is important to Santee Cooper and Johns Island residents that the chosen route and planned construction techniques minimize these impacts as much as possible. The route chosen, which was amended after public input, does not displace any residents or businesses, and follows existing right of way as much as possible.

See the routes that were considered. These routes are explained in more detail in the Siting Study.

 

Work at the Johns Island substation for the project is underway and clearing for the transmission line could begin in spring 2021. Santee Cooper and Dominion Energy construction of the project is currently scheduled for completion by Dec. 31, 2021.

Santee Cooper has submitted the required applications to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, and S.C. OCRM. We have hired a consultant, Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions Inc., to ensure we meet all regulatory requirements.

See the Siting Study.

See the Wetland Delineation Report.

See the Biological Assessment.

See the Navigable Water Permit.