On Feb. 17, 1942, the USS Triton submarine sank a Japanese freighter off the island Kyushu. Halfway around the world, Santee Cooper began generating electricity in Moncks Corner to support the Allied war effort.
Now 75 years later, Jefferies Hydro Unit 2 continues to power Santee Cooper customers.
Santee Cooper's Pinopolis Power Plant (now Jefferies Hydroelectric Station) was named a national defense project and its construction accelerated in 1941, after America joined World War II. Defense contractor Pittsburgh Metallurgical Company was the plant's first customer.
And although Pittsburgh Metallurgical Co. is no longer in business, our U.S. military ties continue with Joint Base Charleston on our system.
Jefferies Hydro Unit 4 followed Unit 2 by just a couple of weeks, coming online on March 5, 1942. Both units were just rebuilt and placed back into service in 2016, with improvements including the latest hydroelectric technology and a 20 percent increase in generating capacity, to about 36 MW each. Units 1, 3 and 6 came online later in 1942 and have not yet been rebuilt but still operate.
Units 2 and 4 "are bigger and better than ever, and hopefully will be able to run as long as the original equipment did," says Jody Perry, longtime Jefferies employee and current superintendent of operations. "They are state-of-the-art hydros now."
They were state-of-the-art 75 years ago as well, attracting 65,000 visitors from every state in the union during and immediately after their construction. Underscoring the nation's anticipation toward the project at the time, the Charleston News and Courier carried "best wishes" from Popeye, Blondie and other favorite comic strips at the time. Chester Gould, creator of Dick Tracy, penned "the Santee Cooper project makes you proud of America, and South Carolina especially. It's a great step."
"Thank you for the opportunity."
Welcome to the inaugural issue of Plugged In, a newsletter intended to keep key Santee Cooper friends informed about our accomplishments and developments that could benefit you.
Santee Cooper has been around a long time. As you'll read on our cover, we started generating electricity 75 years ago at Jefferies Hydroelectric Station. We now have a generating fleet that provides electricity to all 46 counties of South Carolina, directly and through electric cooperatives and municipalities who also distribute our power. I hope I'm still running as strong when I turn 75 as Jefferies Hydro is today.
Electricity is just part of the Santee Cooper story, though. We also have the privilege of working with thousands of South Carolinians who have invested in our Mini-Bonds, and by doing so have provided financing to help Santee Cooper continue delivering reliable, affordable and environmentally protective electricity. Santee Cooper now provides drinking water to several cities, counties and towns, and we value those customer relationships as well.
Economic development is another area where Santee Cooper works hard, keeping our power rates low and providing incentive rates, loans and grants directly and through the state's electric cooperatives and several municipalities. These partnerships are a strong tool in South Carolina's business recruitment effort.
When Santee Cooper was created by the General Assembly in 1934, we took on a mission that still stands today: to be the state's leading resource for improving the lives of all South Carolinians. Staying in touch with all of you who help us achieve that mission is important. Thank you for the opportunity.
Lonnie N. Carter
President and CEO
Santee Cooper's electric generation came primarily from coal in 2016, followed closely by natural gas and purchased power.
In a visible demonstration of Santee Cooper's commitment to diversify our generating fleet to include more emissions-free generation, demolition has begun on the four coal and oil generating units at Jefferies Generating Station outside Moncks Corner. The Jefferies Hydroelectric Station on the same property will continue to operate.
Santee Cooper committed several years ago that by 2020 it would provide 40 percent of its customers' energy needs through renewable energy, non-emitting resources and conservation and energy efficiency. Since then, we have begun building new nuclear power units, closed six coal and oil units, added renewable generation to our mix and launched a rebate-focused program to help customers use less electricity.
DEMCO Inc. will handle the Jefferies demolition and started pre-demolition site work in February. DEMCO will use a "stack muncher" (a hydraulic tool) to disassemble Jefferies' two 300 ft. stacks, a process that could last through the summer as the stack muncher cuts through and crushes the stacks' concrete columns and brick liners from the top down. All buildings and facilities should be demolished by early 2018. Santee Cooper expects to market the property as a commercial or industrial site that creates jobs for the area.
Santee Cooper's lineworker teams swept first and second places at the national Lineworkers Rodeo, sponsored by the American Public Power Association on May 6 in San Antonio, TX.
Out of 73 competing teams, the Santee Cooper transmission team won first place overall and the Santee Cooper distribution team won second. Neither one of the Santee Cooper teams lost any points during event competition, meaning they met every safety standard.
Santee Cooper also has earned a first place APPA Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2016.
"We are extremely pleased and proud to have earned APPA's Safety Award for Excellence," said Ken Lott, Santee Cooper's interim vice president of human resource management. "Santee Cooper considers safety for our employees and customers of paramount importance. This award is a testament to the dedication and focus our employees have and continue to have in creating and maintaining a safe working environment."
Lott said in 2016 Santee Cooper recorded 29 safety incidents, the fewest of any year since records were kept. Santee Cooper has a workforce of 1,759 employees.
"Our safety record in 2016 was likely our best ever," said Lott. "We have been steadily lowering the annual number of safety incidents over the last 30 years. We continue to see positive results in 2017. For example, in March and April we went 48 consecutive days without a safety incident."
Utilities that entered were placed in categories according to their number of worker-hours, and ranked based on the most incident-free records during 2016. APPA's safety awards program has been held for the last 58 consecutive years. The organization is the voice for 2,000 not-for-profit municipal, state and district utilities.
Visit www.santeecooper.com/pi to see the 2017 Santee Cooper Lineworkers' Rodeo video.
In April 2016 Santee Cooper launched Solar Share, South Carolina's first community solar program. That means customers can benefit from solar power even if they don't have a suitable roof, or if they rent their home. Solar Share lets customers subscribe to the electricity produced at our 3-MW solar farm, and that electricity offsets how much they consume each month at home. Solar Share delivers all the benefits of solar power to customers who can't - or would rather not - install their own solar panels.
If you're a Santee Cooper customer, click here to learn more about Solar Share and our other solar rebate programs.
Santee Cooper introduced renewable energy to South Carolinians in 2001, when we opened the Horry Green Power Generating Station at the Horry County Landfill. The station generates electricity from methane gas occurring naturally in the landfill, which removes that potent greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and uses it to help meet customer electric demand. Today, Santee Cooper Green Power comes from six landfills, several solar arrays and a small wind turbine.
And 2016 marked 10 years since Santee Cooper put solar on the state electric grid. We were the first utility to do so, and the project was a solar panel-covered bus shed at Coastal Carolina University.
Customers of Santee Cooper and the state's electric cooperatives can purchase Green Power each month through their electric bills. For just two dimes a day, Green Power has the environmental impact of not driving a car for almost three months (source: EPA greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator using 200 kwh/month for the state of South Carolina). Green Power is Green-e Energy certified, and meets the environmental and consumer-protection standards set forth by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions.
Santee Cooper Green Power has been the source of electricity for some pretty powerful events across South Carolina, too. The Clemson-Carolina football game, Darlington Raceway and the RBC Heritage PGA tournament have all used Green Power for sporting events over the years.
In fact, the RBC Heritage (presented by Boeing) was powered by Green Power for the 9th year running in 2017, thanks to a solid partnership between Santee Cooper, Palmetto Electric Cooperative and the RBC Heritage. The Hilton Head tournament was the first major Green Power event in South Carolina, back in 2009.
More than 97 percent of Santee Cooper residential customers are satisfied, considerably higher than the national average of less than 90 percent. These results, from the 2016 independent survey by MarketSearch, highlight another year of strong customer satisfaction measures for the public power utility.
Customers gave Santee Cooper high marks in quality of electric power, quickly responding to questions or problems (99 percent each), restoring power quickly after outages and keeping power outages to a minimum (98 percent each). Customers also posted strong satisfaction with Santee Cooper's concern for the environment and its leadership role in conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.