Santee Cooper budgets heavily for nuclear work in 2013

The Santee Cooper Board of Directors approved a $2.9bn budget for 2013 at its Dec. 10 regular monthly meeting, with that budget including $2bn for the electric system, $7.7m for the water systems and $933.7m for capital expenditures.

Approximately 53% of the $2bn electric system budget is allocated for fuel and purchased power, the utility, also known as the South Carolina Public Service Authority, said. Budgeted costs for the fuel necessary to generate electricity and supplemental purchased power total slightly over $1bn, with the remaining dollars allocated to all other costs necessary to operate the utility.

“We are taking advantage of the lower prices of natural gas by purchasing more gas-fired electricity where it costs less for our customers,” said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper President and CEO. “More than ever, flexibility is key for us as we navigate through rising fuel and transportation costs and increasing government regulation. We are continuing to balance options and hold the line on all the costs that we can.”

The $933.7m for construction and capital equipment expenditures includes:

  • $683.7m for construction of new nuclear generating (Santee Cooper is involved in adding new capacity to the V.C. Summer nuclear plant along with partner South Carolina Electric & Gas);
  • $41.4m for renewable generation and environmental control improvements; and
  • $208.6m for the transmission and distribution systems and system-wide improvements.

Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, and the state’s largest power producer.

The utility didn’t provide any more details about environmental plans related to the Dec. 10 budgeting. Its Board of Directors did vote 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. 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.”

There is no timetable yet for the unit retirements, Santee said Oct. 19, 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.
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.