August 25, 2009

Florence Spared a Dirty Coal Plant

From the Florence Morning News:
PINOPOLIS — Santee Cooper said the economy and uncertainty over the cost of possible cap-and-trade legislation are two reasons its board has voted to suspend permitting for a proposed coal-fired power generation facility in Kingsburg.

The board of the state-owned utility took its vote Monday, when a committee recommended the suspension of permitting for the $1.25 billion facility for these reasons, as well as reduced power load requirements.

The power load reduction would result from another board vote to allow Central Electric Power Cooperative Inc. to remove 1,000 megawatts from Santee Cooper’s system over seven years beginning in 2013.

“Any of those three items would cause us to cancel (the facility). ... We’re going to put it on hold and sit tight,” board Chairman O.L. Thompson said after the meeting.


Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter said that if the circumstances continue as expected, he thinks the project will ultimately be canceled.

“We’re not in the business of building power plants,” he said after the meeting. “We’re in the business of providing low-cost, reliable power.”


Opponents of the proposed Kingsburg plant said they applauded Santee Cooper’s board for their decision.

“I think it moves us toward a clean-energy future,” said Peggy Brown of Florence, who represented the League of Women Voters and state Sierra Club. “I’m very grateful for Santee Cooper’s commitment to their energy-efficiency programs.”

The board also voted Monday to extend its energy-efficiency loan program from $5.5 million to $10 million.

“Obviously, I want the ultimate decision to be that the coal plant will never be built and that (Santee Cooper) will focus on” energy efficiency and invest in renewable energy, said Nancy Cave, North Coast Office director for the Coastal Conservation League.

John Ramsburgh, climate and energy director for Conservation Voters of South Carolina, said the board’s vote “reflects a national trend” against coal and toward clean, efficient energy.

“We look forward to passing strong federal climate legislation that will create jobs and promote an energy-independent South Carolina,” he said.
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