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Santee Cooper has no plans to retire Winyah coal plant despite customer objections

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Santee Cooper has no plans to retire Winyah coal plant despite customer objections

Highlights

Winyah remains a 'workhorse' for utility: spokeswoman

Central Electric co-op urges utility to shut plant

Louisville, Kentucky — Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned utility, has no plans to retire its 1,260-MW Winyah coal-fired power plant near Georgetown despite calls by its largest customer to do so, Santee Cooper spokeswoman Molly Gore said Wednesday.

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Central Electric Cooperative, which buys about 60% of Santee Cooper's power for the state's 20 electric co-ops, is urging Santee Cooper to shut Winyah and rely more heavily on natural gas and solar energy.

But that will not happen right now, Gore said.

Winyah remains a "workhorse" for the utility and is needed for reliability purposes, Gore said. "Plus, it's the plant closest to the majority of our retail load."

The plant is also fully environmentally compliant, she added.

Winyah's four generating units were commissioned between 1975 and 1981, making it one of the "newer" baseload coal plants in the Southeast.

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"Winyah is fully staffed and used," Gore said. "We have no plans to do anything different with it." Capacity factor figures were not immediately available, however.

The CEC request comes as Santee Cooper's future is up in the air.

The utility turns 85 years old in April and has been under state ownership since its inception, but the South Carolina Legislature is debating whether to sell Santee Cooper to a private company citing, in part, the utility's participation in an expensive failed nuclear power project last year. A legislative decision could come later this year.

Santee Cooper owns 5,575-MW of summer generating capacity, more than half coal-fired. Winyah, Gore said, accounted for less than half of the utility's generation output in 2018.

The plant typically burns more than 3 million st/year of coal.

-- Bob Matyi, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com