Santee Cooper to retire four coal and two oil units, at some point

The Santee Cooper Board of Directors voted Oct. 19 to authorize retirement of six units at its two oldest stations, after considering Santee Cooper’s generation resource needs and the cost of complying with new environmental regulations.

The board directed Santee Cooper’s president and CEO to develop plans for an orderly retirement of the four coal and two oil units. Santee Cooper is also known as the South Carolina Public Service Authority and is an arm of state government. The vote marks Santee Cooper’s first unit retirements since the utility first generated power 70 years ago, said an Oct. 19 Santee statement.

“As we evaluated the anticipated costs of complying with new regulations and the generation resources we anticipate needing, it became clear that the best action for our customers and the state is to authorize the retirement of these units at Jefferies and Grainger,” Board Chairman O.L. Thompson said. “It is not a decision we make lightly. However, it is the most cost-effective move we can make.”

“Santee Cooper’s primary responsibility is to provide South Carolina with affordable, reliable and environmentally protective electricity, and today’s board vote supports that responsibility,” said President and CEO Lonnie Carter. “Even so, this was a difficult recommendation for management to make, given the important legacies of these two generating stations to our utility, our state and to the communities around them.”

There is no timetable yet for the unit retirements, although Grainger’s units were idled in the spring.

  • Jefferies, located in Moncks Corner, has four units slated to be retired. Two are coal-fired and two use oil. The oldest two units date to 1954, Units 3 and 4 came online in 1970, and the four have a combined capacity of 398 MW. The decision does not affect Jefferies Hydroelectric Generating Station.
  • Grainger, located in Conway, came online in 1966 and has a capacity of 170 MW. The station has been idle since earlier this year as Santee Cooper continued evaluating potential impacts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), issued last December.

Santee Cooper said it continues its evaluation of MATS requirements affecting its other, newer fossil fueled generating units. “Our priority now will be to evaluate next steps and establish a timetable for retiring the units,” Carter said. “I recognize that these will be important decisions potentially impacting many people, and we will be inclusive and transparent as we go forward. These stations are neighbors to thousands of our customers, after all, and we fully intend to remain involved in these communities.”

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.