June 5, 2009

We want renewable fuels, not coal

South Carolinians have concerns for what Santee Cooper's rate hikes will be invested in...coal. In November, we will pay Santee Cooper's rate hikes and see precisely where the rates will be allocated: as of now, to further pollute South Carolina with dirty coal. South Carolinians will surely feel the burden of an increased rate by November and as well as the burden of pollution if Santee Cooper persists on its destructive project. So why not relieve South Carolinians of such a burden and invest in green alternatives? There is no need to pay more money for more pollution...

The Sun News
Santee Cooper hearing: People want renewable fuels, not
By Claudia Lauer
June 4, 2009

Many of the customers who commented during public hearings this week about Santee Cooper's proposed rate hike weren't opposed to the idea of paying more for their electricity, but several were opposed to how that electricity might be produced.

The base rate hike would be implemented in two November rounds, this year and next, and would include increased energy rates during peak summer months. The average rate hike for all residents would be $6.47 a month starting in November, and an additional $8 a month in November 2010, but that number does not include potential increases in fuel costs. Many who commented at the public hearings said they would support the rate increase if the money were spent on renewable energy sources.

"I do favor energy efficiency and conservation over expanding traditional energy production," said Aaron Rucker, a customer from Little River. "I'm worried that the increase in rates has a lot to do with funding the nuclear and coal plant efforts."

Representatives of Santee Cooper said the increase is going to be used to fund an expected increase in energy needs over the next decade. Part of that need will be met with coal and nuclear energy.

Based on Santee Cooper's annual report, the revenue requirements from 2009 to 2011 for nuclear energy improvements is $1.5 billion. For the proposed coal plant, $462,000 will be needed, and $720,000 is required for general improvements to the distribution system for all energy sources.

Nancy Cave, the Northeast office director for the Coastal Conservation League, asked the utility to sign on to three initiatives, including an energy efficiency standard that would reduce 10 percent of energy sales by 2020, a renewable energy standard that would require 10 percent or more of energy produced to come from renewable sources by 2020, and a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050.

"If they implemented the first two, then the coal plant wouldn't be necessary," Cave said.

Other residents asked the utility to consider increasing its efforts to make consumers aware of energy efficiency programs and measures they can take part in. A few asked that the company make net metering possible for customers who produce their own energy to receive discounts.

"Some of the things being discussed in Washington D.C., which sounds similar to what Ms. Cave is proposing, we would have to raise our rates by 30 to 50 percent to make that happen."

Company officials said Thursday the utility's job is not to research green energy.

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