Santee Cooper's Green Power Generating Station Enters Commercial Operation
CONWAY, SC — September 11, 2001 — South Carolina's first commercial "green power" generating station has begun making electricity.
Engineers at Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric and water utility officially placed the 2.2-megawatt facility into service on Sept. 4.
The station is located at the Horry County Solid Waste Authority landfill near Conway. The plant's two Jenbacher V-20 engines use methane gas produced from the landfill's decaying refuse as fuel.
"Santee Cooper is proud to be the first electric utility in South Carolina to offer green power," said Lonnie Carter, senior vice president of planning and bulk power. "We hope this plant is the first of many more to come."
It's called "green power" because the methane gas used to power the generators is a renewable resource. Other examples of renewable resources to produce electricity are solar and wind.
"Because it costs more to produce green power than electricity produced from conventional sources, it will cost customers who participate in this program a premium of 3 cents per kilowatt-hour," said Carter. "Under the plan, residential customers may purchase in blocks of 100 kwhs each and commercial customers in blocks of 200 kwhs each. The program is entirely voluntary. This program provides our customers an opportunity to support the environment and the development of renewable energy projects."
Capturing the methane gas is important environmentally. Methane has been identified as a greenhouse gas, suspected as a contributor to global warming, a disputed yet prevalent theory in the scientific community.
At full capacity, the plant will produce enough electricity to provide green power in blocks to approximately 9,300 residential customers and at the same time achieve an environmental impact equivalent to planting more than 15,000 acres of trees—enough to cover an almost 24-square mile area.
"One hundred percent of the revenues from green power will be applied to future green power projects," said Carter.
The power produced enters the electric grid through Horry Electric Cooperative lines. "We're excited to be a part of this project, which is the first of its kind in South Carolina," said Pat Howle, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Horry Electric. "Together with Santee Cooper and the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, we're doing something that will very definitely make a positive impact on our environment. It is anticipated that, in addition to Horry Electric Cooperative, the other 19 electric cooperatives in South Carolina will also soon be able to offer green power to their customers."
While Santee Cooper owns the generators, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority owns the methane gas collection system. Santee Cooper is purchasing the gas from the authority, which may have enough gas to sell for more generators.
"We may add two more similarly sized generators providing adequate methane gas is available," said Project Manager John Halbig. "So far, it looks very promising that we will be able to do that."
Santee Cooper is the source of power for 1.6 million South Carolinians. The utility serves 130,000 retail customers in Horry, Georgetown and Berkeley counties, and provides power to the municipal utilities in Georgetown and Bamberg.
Santee Cooper is also the primary source of power for all 20 of the state's electric cooperatives and directly serves 34 industrial customers in 11 counties. The Santee Cooper Regional Water System provides wholesale water to four Lowcountry water utilities.
Sante Cooper Contacts:
Jill Watts (843) 448-6430
Willard Strong (843) 761-4053