- Santee Cooper's board of directors on Monday approved a new "business forecast" that sketches out a cleaner future for the South Carolina utility, including 1 GW of new solar generation, 200 MW of battery storage and a phaseout of four coal units.
- The state-owned utility prepared the projection for South Carolina's Department of Administration, which is weighing a possible sale to pay off debt related to the failed VC Summer nuclear project. The 2019 business forecast will be used as the base-case in evaluating a possible deal.
- Santee Cooper's board had also planned to vote on a memorandum of understanding to cooperate with Southern Co. on fuel supply and other issues. However, The State newspaper reports Gov. Henry McMaster, R, squashed that arrangement over concerns it could interfere with the sale process.
Santee Cooper last month said it was preparing a new business plan that called for phasing out coal generation and lowering carbon emissions, and its newly-approved forecast adds more detail.
The plan calls for using $925 million in the next two years to pay down nuclear debt, while avoiding rate increases. It also includes:
- phasing out the coal-fired Winyah Generating Station by retiring two of its four units in 2023 and the remaining pair in 2027;
- adding 1,000 MW of solar by 2024, above the 160 MW that the utility expects online by next year;
- developing 200 MW of battery storage between 2024 and 2028;
- adding at least 100 MW of dual-fuel aeroderivative turbines by 2023, followed by 500 MW of gas-fired capacity in 2027 and another 500 MW early in the next decade.
The utility also anticipates 150 MW of demand-side savings by 2027 and another 50 MW over the following decade.
The utility said its plan would reduce carbon emissions approximately 30% over the next 10 years, and almost 25% of its generation would come from non-emitting resources. In addition, 50% would be owned or purchased gas-fired generation, "constituting a much greener portfolio than the current coal-dominant mix."
Under the terms of a coordination agreement, Santee Cooper noted that it will engage with Central Electric Power Cooperative on proposed generation changes.
The utility's canceled arrangement with Southern would have covered fuel supply, grid modernization and other areas, The State reports.
Santee Cooper officials told Utility Dive the arrangement was "not ownership related," but rather included a memorandum of understanding between the utilities, "with the goal of achieving efficiencies, economies of scale and other economic benefits."
A sale of the utility could help pay off debt related to the VC Summer debacle.
In 2017, Santee Cooper and its partner on the project, South Carolina Electric & Gas, abandoned development of the nuclear project after projected costs spiraled to exceed $25 billion — a 75% increase over initial estimates. The two utilities spent $9 billion before walking away.
Santee Cooper says it will also be preparing a "reform plan" for submittal later this year, and specific transactions will be presented to its board of directors for approval as the utility executes on the new business strategy.