Santee Cooper is Intelligence
I’ve been highlighting what I’ve learned in my first months here at Santee Cooper through my previous blogs. I’ve had the chance to work across departments and learned what a balancing act things can be.
I had the opportunity to tour Energy Control Center, where they monitor power output, input, any problems and a whole lot more. It’s an amazing, constant assessment of meeting power needs without creating too much power during each second of the day, all the while making sure we’re producing and using the most cost-effective electricity at the time.
Can it come from hydroelectric power? That’s the cheapest, but it’s not constant. Our coal-fired steam plants can meet the load, but when do you bring on another unit? That takes time and money. What’s the price of natural gas at the time? Do we want to run our Rainey gas generating station?
It’s an impressive set of tasks and skill. And Stony Martin, the manager of ECC, was great at breaking down just how it all works. He was sure to make sure I and other employees understood that he and his team were always looking for the most cost-effective way to power two-thirds of the state. It’s a constant pulling and pushing of power, coming from all different sources and monitored every second to make the most of the resources available at the least cost possible.
Then, there’s the Jefferies Hydroelectric Station and managing the lakes. This, too, is a balancing act. If the lake levels become too high, because of inflows from the Congaree and Wateree rivers, Santee Cooper must spill water through gates at the dam on Lake Marion to bring lake levels down. The amount of water Santee Cooper is permitted to discharge at Jefferies Hydro from Lake Moultrie into the Tailrace Canal and Cooper River is regulated, and this requires constant monitoring. Lakes Marion and Moultrie are sources of drinking water that Santee Cooper treats and provides wholesale to utilities in Berkeley and Orangeburg counties. This brings in another set of factors.
It takes a lot of knowledge to keep everything stable and working correctly, and to do it while keeping costs low for our customers. It’s amazing to see the number of factors and decisions that go into minute-by-minute operations. So, the next time you flip a switch, charge your phone or make your coffee, we’ll be here making sure you have reliable, cost-effective power.
To learn more about our statewide role in providing power, water, economic development and many other vital services to South Carolina go to www.santeecooper.com/About/Powering-South-Carolina/Index.aspx.