The Santee Cooper Board of Directors on May 9 approved the utility’s 2023 integrated resource plan, including a preferred energy portfolio that significantly reduces Santee Cooper’s carbon footprint and prioritizes flexibility, reliability, and affordability in meeting customers’ future power needs.
The board also approved submitting the IRP to the South Carolina Public Service Commission on May 15 for the Commission to begin its review process.
The IRP summarizes 18 months of detailed analysis of various resource options and combinations to develop the preferred portfolio.
Key components of that portfolio, envisioned to be implemented by the mid-2030s, include:
- Adding over 3,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power.
- Adding 1,000 - 1,400 MW of natural gas combined cycle capacity, in part to replace coal-fired power slated to be retired.
- The already announced retirement of the coal-fired Winyah Generating Station, timed to coincide with availability of the new natural gas resource and involving a parallel community-driven transition process.
- Adding 350 MW of innovative battery storage technology to increase flexibility in meeting resource needs.
- Adding 447 MW of combustion turbine units, also to increase flexibility.
- Reducing Santee Cooper’s carbon emissions rate by 56% from 2005 levels, with further reductions as more solar comes online.
The preferred portfolio includes flexibility to allow for a joint build with Dominion Energy South Carolina of a new natural gas unit, which the two utilities are exploring for potential economies of scale and other efficiencies.
The preferred portfolio also can adjust as necessary to include dispatch of customer-provided resources, in particular power purchase agreements proposed by Central Electric Power Cooperative, Santee Cooper’s largest customer, Santee Cooper said.
The 2023 IRP reflects input by customers and other stakeholders gathered during five public meetings, held from March 2022 to April 2023, and hundreds of comments and questions offered throughout the public input process. Additional technical meetings were also held as requested by stakeholder groups.
Santee Cooper and its consultants analyzed several resource portfolios, including a lowest-cost option, a no-new-carbon option, an option that retired all coal units by 2033, and a net-zero-by-2050 option.
The preferred portfolio aligns closely with the lowest-cost portfolio but includes more battery storage, accelerated implementation of solar resources, and fewer gas-fired combustion turbines.
More information about Santee Cooper’s 2023 IRP is available at www.santeecooper.com/IRP, and that site will be updated once the final version is filed May 15 and throughout the regulatory review process.