Santee Cooper: New Business Forecast
Customers to benefit from leaner, greener utility
MONCKS CORNER, S.C. – Santee Cooper has a clear mandate to modernize its resources, increase efficiency and pay off its debt without additional burden to its customers. “We have heard the strong call for improvement and transparency, and today our Board approved a new business forecast that substantially moves Santee Cooper in a new direction,” said Dan Ray, Chairman of the Santee Cooper Board of Directors. “This forecast will increase benefits to customers, and decrease their costs.”
The Santee Cooper Board, with unanimous approval of this new forecast, committed to a strategy for an innovative and significantly greener resource mix, strategic financial transactions and other commitments that will reduce or hold customer prices stable for at least another five years, preserve reliability, reduce the utility’s carbon emissions by another 30% over the next decade, and pay off its debt faster and at a lesser cost to customers.
The new business forecast would:
- Use $925 million in the next two years to pay down nuclear debt, and achieve ongoing savings that further accelerate debt payoff – without additional rate increases
- Increase Santee Cooper’s solar power capacity by 500 percent
- Introduce large-scale battery storage to South Carolina
- Close four coal-fired generating units over eight years
- Increase natural gas generation to meet demand and reliability needs
- Hold to the current headcount, which has been reduced by 10% since 2017
- Continue Santee Cooper’s commitment to economic development, lake management, safe drinking water and the many other services it provides to South Carolina
“This is a comprehensive, forward-focused roadmap grounded in some of the best strategies used by progressive utilities around the country,” said President and CEO Mark Bonsall. “These are proven technologies and practices through which Santee Cooper can better serve its customers for decades to come. The phasing out of coal over several years helps us make this transition, and it our goal to do so without layoffs.”
The Department of Administration has requested this 2019 business forecast to use as the base case for its H. 4287 process. Santee Cooper will also prepare a reform plan for submittal later this year.
The new forecast includes provisions to close the Winyah Generating Station in two phases, eliminating two units in 2023 and the remaining two in 2027, with a goal of no layoffs. It calls for adding 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power by 2024, beyond the 150 MWs already planned to be added by 2020. It would bring 200 MW of battery storage capability online beginning in 2024 – the first large-scale commitment to battery storage in South Carolina. Additionally, the forecast encompasses 150 MW of demand-side savings across Santee Cooper’s system by 2027 and another 50 MW over the subsequent decade. To preserve reliability as Winyah units close, the forecast also anticipates at least 100 MW of dual-fuel turbines by 2023 and additional natural gas as demand requires beginning in 2027.
According to terms of the Coordination Agreement with Central Electric Power Cooperative, Santee Cooper will engage with Central on proposed generation changes at the appropriate time, as enabled by the Department of Administration.
Once the forecast’s generating resource component is fully executed, nearly 25% of Santee Cooper’s generation would be sustainable or non-emitting resources. Roughly 50% would be owned or purchased natural gas generation, constituting a much greener portfolio than the current coal-dominant mix.