South Carolina Electric outlines coal shutdowns, gas switching

South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) said May 30 that it plans to retire up to six coal-fired generating units at three locations by the end of 2018.

The units range in age from 45 to 57 years and are SCE&G’s oldest and smallest coal units, the utility noted. This plan is part of a new integrated resource plan that the utility filed May 30 at the South Carolina Public Service Commission.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in recent years has issued a series of increasingly stringent regulations targeting coal-fired plants. Since 2008, SCE&G said it has installed more than $600m in environmental equipment at its largest coal-fired power plants, significantly reducing emissions of SO2, NOx and mercury. However, the company decided that adding costly emissions control equipment to these older plants to ensure compliance with the new regulations was not a good business decision.

“Since announcing our new nuclear project in 2008, we’ve said that the addition of the two new nuclear units would give us flexibility to look at reducing our reliance on coal and allow us to achieve better fuel diversity in our electric generation portfolio,” said Kevin Marsh, Chairman and CEO of SCE&G’s parent company, SCANA Corp. (NYSE: SCG). “With the planned retirement of these coal units and the addition of our two new nuclear units, we anticipate that by the end of 2018 roughly one-third of our electric generation will be fueled by nuclear power, one-third by natural gas, and one-third by scrubbed coal-fired plants. These changes will help us meet the increasingly stringent environmental regulations facing our industry and should position SCE&G to be a leader in non-emitting generation well into the future.”

Marsh was referring to the two new units planned for the V.C. Summer nuclear plant that were approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) earlier this year.

Near term steps SCE&G outlined in its IRP include:

  • retirement of Unit 1 at the Canadys plant near Walterboro by the end of 2012; and
  • switching Unit 3 at the Urquhart plant near Aiken from coal to entirely natural gas by the end of 2012.

Additional planned steps include:

  • planned switching of Units 1 and 2 at the McMeekin plant near Irmo and Units 2 and 3 at Canadys from coal to entirely natural gas by 2015;
  • planned retirement of the remaining two units (Units 2 and 3) at Canadys by the end of 2017;
  • planned retirement of both Units 1 and 2 at the McMeekin plant by the end of 2018; and
  • planned retirement of Unit 3 at Urquhart by the end of 2018.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.