Regulated utility South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) last week filed plans with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina to retire up to six coal-fired units—a total capacity of 750 MW—by 2018. The units are some of the utility’s “oldest and smallest,” and it would not be a “good business decision” to add costly environmental control equipment to these plants, SCE&G said.

SCE&G said in its annual Integrated Resource Plan filed with state regulators that it would retire the 136-MW Unit 1 of the Canadys Plant near Walterboro and switch the 100-MW Unit 3 at the Urquhart Plant near Aiken from coal to all natural gas by the end of 2012. By 2015, it would also switch the 146-MW Units 1 and 2 at the McMeekin Plant near Irmo, and the 136-MW Unit 2 and 217-MW Unit 3 at the Canadys Plant from coal to natural gas. It planned to retire the remaining two units (Units 2 and 3) at Canadys by the end of 2017 and retire Units 1 and 2 at the McMeekin Plant by the end of 2018. Unit 3 at Urquhart would also be retired by the end of 2018.

All the units range in age from 45 years to 57 years, SCE&G said. “The Environmental Protection Agency in recent years has issued a series of increasingly stringent regulations targeting coal-fired electric generating plants,” it said. “Since 2008, SCE&G has installed more than $600 million in environmental equipment at its largest coal-fired power plants, significantly reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury. However, the company determined that adding costly environmental control equipment to these older plants to ensure compliance with the new regulations would not at this time be a good business decision.”

The utility’s parent company, SCANA Corp., and partners plan to spend more than $9 billion to build two reactors at SCANA’s VC Summer Plant in South Carolina. The first unit is expected in service in 2017 and the second in 2018.

“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, chair and CEO of SCANA Corp. Marsh added that the planned retirement of SCE&G’s coal plants, plus the addition of the two new nuclear reactors by the end of 2018 would change the company’s generating profile so that a third would be fueled by nuclear power, a third by natural gas, and a third by scrubbed coal 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 added.

Sources: POWERnews, SCE&G