EPA rules threaten closure of SC power plants

Santee Cooper's Conway
coal-fired power plant
Several dozen mostly coal-fired power plants in a dozen states will be forced to shut down with several dozen more facing possible closure because of new federal air pollution regulations, according to an Associated Press survey. These changes may force Santee-Cooper, which relies upon coal-powered generation plants to generate three-quarters of its electric output, to close at least two of its coal-powered generator plants, reducing it's generating capacity by at least ten percent.

The immediate impact will cost several dozen jobs at the Conway plant, but considering the importance of the company's electric supply to several major industrial plants in the region, more jobs could be lost. Santee Cooper supplies Alcoa and Nucor Steel, along with other manufacturing plants in the region. It seems hard to imagine that reducing the utility's ability to generate power would be good for its customers. Alcoa, which operates an aluminum plant in Goose Creek, is already considering leaving, with electric rates being a key concern.

It's possible the new rules could also impact South Carolina Electric and Gas, the state's other major electricity supplier, which operates coal-fired plants in South Carolina to generate about half of its total electricity output. Presently, it's still uncertain how the new regulations will impact its capacity, but if plants were to close, it would reduce the state's capacity for some time to come - at least until the ongoing expansion of their V.C. Summer nuclear plant in Fairfield County is complete, which is several years away.

Stay tuned folks, but keep the flashlights close at hand, just in case ...

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