Natural Gas And Santee Cooper’s Path Forward
Facts ARE Facts
Natural gas plays a key role in Santee Cooper’s planning for future generation needs. A chief benefit: it will help us reduce our reliance on coal-fired generation by about 40%, which substantially reduces emissions.
The FACT is, Santee Cooper has a new, leaner and greener business forecast that also includes:
- a 500% increase in solar power, and
- the state’s first announced large-scale battery storage project
The 2019 Business Forecast, approved as a path forward on Sept. 9, reflects hard work by many and a fresh vision by new leadership. The plan creates a 21st century utility optimizing innovative technology to fulfill our core responsibility: providing responsible, reliable, and affordable electricity and water.
As a fuel source for electricity, natural gas is very low-cost today and likely to remain so for a long time. It is also available to generate power 24/7. Solar power will be an important part of power supply, to be sure, but we also need resources that work at night or on cloudy days. Adding natural gas will actually help Santee Cooper integrate more solar into the system. Beyond that, natural gas will help meet increasing customer demand and provide generating diversity that will balance market fluctuations for decades to come.
The 2019 forecast anticipates continuing to purchase gas-fired generation at favorable prices from other producers, as we already are doing. It also anticipates building 500 megawatts (MWs) of natural gas generation by 2027 and another 500 MWs by the early 2030s - which would require new gas supply in South Carolina. Santee Cooper will be monitoring construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline over the coming years.
Another option is to purchase more gas-fueled generation from other producers. That would require transmission system improvements, which are also under consideration.
That’s the great thing about this new business forecast: it provides the flexibility that allows us to maintain stable prices for our customers now – and for at least the next five years – and monitor developments for the future. And while research today points to natural gas projects, we can easily pivot according to developments in technology and market forces.
Clean energy resources (including gas). Flexible and reliable generation. Low prices. All to benefit our customers. That is a FACT.