Santee Cooper Celebrates National Hydropower Day
MONCKS CORNER, S.C. – In recognition of America’s first renewable, Santee Cooper is joining utilities across the nation to celebrate National Hydropower Day on Tuesday, Aug. 24. Santee Cooper’s Jefferies Hydroelectric Station at the Pinopolis Dam has been providing clean, renewable energy to South Carolinians for 79 of the more than 135 years hydropower has been powering America.
“As a hydropower generator, we are proud to have clean, renewable hydro energy as part of our generating portfolio,” said Tommy Curtis, Chief Generation Officer. “As we transform to a leaner, greener energy mix, including the addition of 1,500 MW of solar power, hydropower will continue to complement our energy sources.”
Santee Cooper hydropower’s connection to wartime efforts and rural electrification
In 1934, Governor Blackwood signed a bill to create the South Carolina Public Service Authority, known as Santee Cooper, to construct two reservoirs and a hydroelectric plant to serve the rural South Carolina population and provide navigation from Columbia to Charleston. Construction began in 1939.
In 1941, President Roosevelt named Santee Cooper’s Pinopolis Power Plant (now Jefferies Hydroelectric Station) a national defense project, and construction accelerated when America joined World War II.
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. Santee Cooper’s U.S. military ties continue with Charleston Air Force Base as a customer on our system.
Best Wishes from Popeye and Dick Tracy
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.”
The hydro project was well-known nationwide and attracted 65,000 visitors from every state in the union during and immediately its construction.
About National Hydropower Day
National Hydropower Day celebrates hydropower’s undeniable contributions to America’s clean energy infrastructure. As the renewable resource that integrates the other renewables, like wind and solar, onto the grid, hydropower plays a critical role in advancing America’s clean energy future.
According to the National Hydropower Association, nationwide in 2019, hydropower represented nearly 6.6% of total U.S. electricity generation and 38% of renewable electricity generation. The U.S. hydropower fleet is comprised of approximately 2,200 power plants with a total capacity of roughly 80 GW, which includes 91% of U.S. storage capacity (23 GW) of pumped storage.
Hydropower is also a major job creator, employing approximately 66,500 workers in the U.S. Given that hydropower pairs perfectly with other renewables, such as wind and solar, states throughout the U.S. are recognizing that hydropower is needed to help them meet their clean energy targets.
Hydropower enables greater integration of variable renewables into the grid by utilizing excess generation and being ready to produce power during low wind and solar generation periods. Hydropower also has the ability to quickly ramp up electricity generation in response to periods of peak demand.