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SCE&G announces plans to close part of its coal-fired plant system

Hampton & Branchville Railroad crew pulls empty coal cars from Canadys Station

South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) plans to close the first of three units at the company’s Canadys plant by the end of this year. The closings are coming as part of its annual Integrated Resource Plan filed last Wednesday with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) announced plans to retire up to six coal-fired generating units at three locations by the end of 2018. The units range in age from 45 to 57 years and are SCE&G’s oldest and smallest coal-fired units.

The Environmental Protection Agency in recent years has issued a series of increasingly stringent regulations targeting coal-fired electric generating plants. Since 2008, SCE&G has installed more than $600 million in environmental equipment at its largest coal-fired power plants, significantly reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury. However, the company determined that adding costly environmental control equipment to these older plants to ensure compliance with the new regulations would not at this time be a good business decision.

“Since announcing our new nuclear project in 2008, we’ve said that the addition of the two new nuclear units would give us flexibility to look at reducing our reliance on coal and allow us to achieve better fuel diversity in our electric generation portfolio,” said Kevin Marsh, Chairman and CEO of SCE&G’s parent company, SCANA Corp.  “With the planned retirement of these coal units and the addition of our two new nuclear units, we anticipate that by the end of 2018 roughly one-third of our electric generation will be fueled by nuclear power, one-third by natural gas, and one-third by scrubbed coal-fired plants. These changes will help us meet the increasingly stringent environmental regulations facing our industry and should position SCE&G to be a leader in non-emitting generation well into the future.”

Near term steps SCE&G outlined in its IRP include:

  • The retirement of Unit 1 at the Canadys Plant near Walterboro by the end of 2012
  • The switching Unit 3 at the Urquhart Plant near Aiken from coal to entirely natural gas by the end of 2012

Additional planned steps include:

  • A plan to switch Units 1 and 2 at the McMeekin Plant near Irmo and Units 2 and 3 at the Canadys Plant from coal to entirely natural gas by 2015
  • A plan to retire the remaining two units (Units 2 and 3) at Canadys by the end of 2017
  • A plan to retire both Units 1 and 2 at the McMeekin Plant by the end of 2018
  • A plan retire Unit 3 at Urquhart by the end of 2018

SCE&G employs a total of about 170 people at these three plants. The closing of Unit one at Canadys and the switching of Urquhart Unit three to natural gas is expected to impact 20 employment positions. The company will assist affected employees in looking for other positions within the company.  “These units and their employees have served our customers well for decades, and we appreciate their service,” said Marsh.

SCE&G is a regulated utility engaged in the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to approximately 668,000 customers in South Carolina. The company also provides natural gas service to approximately 319,000 customers throughout the state. More information about SCE&G is available at www.sceg.com.

Rick Tobin, Editor (438 Posts)