South Carolina Spurning Coal

The current population of the state of South Carolina is approximately 5.15 million people. In May 2019, state utilities used nuclear (55.1%), natural gas (24.2%), coal (15.1%) and renewable energy (5.5%) to generate electricity. Hydropower, biomass and solar are the primary sources of renewable energy in South Carolina.

In 2014, South Carolina’s legislature authorized the creation of a voluntary Distributed Energy Resource Program for electric utilities and required the Public Service Commission to develop net metering rules. The legislation’s goal was to increase in-state renewable energy generation capacity and allow participating utilities to recover costs connected to the utility’s renewable generation target.

South Carolina’s state-owned utility, Santee Cooper has announced plans to phase out all coal-fired power plants. The company owns and operates the Winyah Generating Station, a 1,260 MW coal-fired power station, located near Georgetown, South Carolina. Santee Cooper intends to close two of the four coal-fired units in 2023 and the remaining two units in 2027.

Santee Cooper, founded in 1934 is South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility. The company, headquartered in Moncks Corner, South Carolina serves over 165,000 residential and commercial customers. Santee Cooper currently generates over 46% of its electricity from the Winyah Generating Station.
No fossil fuel is renewable. Anthracite, the highest quality coal has been virtually mined out around the world. Coal-fired power plants are having to use significantly more lower grade coal to generate the same power capacity as higher grade coal. More coal means significantly more transportation costs and therefore higher fuel costs.

America’s electricity generation sector is undergoing a major transformation, moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The move to renewable energy is being driven by the economics of cheap renewable energy and concerns over climate change. South Carolina is joining the majority of states that spurning coal.

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