Santee Cooper Plans Coal, Oil Unit Retirements on Regulatory Cost Concerns

Four coal and two oil generating units at two of the oldest power plants owned by Santee Cooper are to be retired. South Carolina’s state-owned utility said last week that the decision was reached by its board of directors after considering generation resource needs and the cost of complying with new environmental regulations.

No timetable has been yet announced. Earlier this spring, the utility had already idled two coal units at its 1966-built 170-MW Grainger power plant in Conway while evaluating potential impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). The other units slated for retirement are two coal units and two oil units at the 398-MW Jefferies Generating Station in Moncks Corner. That plant’s two oldest units date to 1954, while Units 3 and 4 came online in 1970. The decision does not affect Jefferies Hydroelectric Generating Station.

The utility said the vote to authorize the closures marked the utility’s first unit retirements since the company began generating power 70 years ago.

“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.”

The utility said it is continuing its evaluation of MATS requirements affecting its other fossil-fueled generating units. Priority will now be given to establishing a timetable for retiring the units.

Sources: POWERnews, Santee Cooper

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)

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