Santee Cooper Sees the Light, Cancels Pee Dee Coal Plant

Guest Blog | August 24, 2009 | Coal, Energy Policy
greatpeedeeriverIn an astounding turn of events today, the state-owned utility Santee Cooper Board voted unanimously to suspend their plans to permit and develop the Pee Dee coal-fired power plant in Florence County, South Carolina (along the banks of the Great Pee Dee River). Our hearty congratulations to all of our South Carolina colleagues and allies who fought so hard to make this day a reality through their SCSaysNo! Campaign.  This decision to cancel a coal plant falls in line as the 101st defeated coal plant across that nation since 2001 (according to the Sierra Club).  It’s a breath of fresh air (literally!) to have another coal plant from the Southeast join this list. Read the latest news article with full history/timeline of the plant. And read Santee Cooper’s CEO’s OpEd on their August 24th decision.

The Santee Cooper board members, in their vote, cited a number of pressing current issues including a possible national renewable energy standard, fluctuations in financial markets, and the timing and cost of future energy generation in making their decision:

“Committee members and Santee Cooper staff said the down economy, looming federal regulation of carbon and a potential agreement with another power company made it possible to forgo building the power plant.” (From the Sun News.)

Unfortunately, Santee Cooper is likely looking to displace it’s energy demand to Duke Energy (ie. the Cliffside coal plant) and hoping to construct a new nuclear facility with SCANA corp. in the near future.  We would santeecooperlogo1much prefer that Santee Cooper get serious about offsetting energy demand by aggressively embracing energy efficiency programs to slow demand growth. We have plenty of information (SACE EE report and SE Energy Efficiency Alliance report) to show that a committed investment in energy efficiency can adequately offset the need for new baseload coal and nuclear power plants.

While we are wary of the plans to construct a new nuclear power plant, we are extremely pleased that South Carolina AND Santee Cooper really have “said No!” to coal and want to highlight that:

‘”The agency’s action makes it unlikely the plant will ever be built,” said Santee Cooper board Chairman O.L. Thompson.’  From the Sun News.

Cancellation of the PeeDee coal plant means that all of these emissions, all of this coal, and all of this waste is saved from our air, water, mountain-top removal mining, pocket-books, and the environment:coalwaste

  • 3,500 tons of annual nitrous oxide pollution
  • 7,000 tons of annual sulfur dioxide pollution
  • 900 tons of annual fine soot particle pollution
  • 93 pounds of annual mercury pollution
  • 11,600,000 tons of carbon dioxide pollution
  • 780,000 tons of annual solid waste stored on site in 2 ash ponds and 3 landfills
  • 16,000,000 gallons of water withdrawn from the Great Pee Dee daily
  • 93 acres of wetlands permanently impacted
  • 8,000 tons of coal mined in Appalachia burned daily
  • At least 2.7 billion state-secured dollars invested for construction


Congratulations, again, to all of our hard-working South Carolina colleagues. This is a triumph for the planet that should be toasted!  Read Southern Environmental Law Center’s press release.

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