Study: Santee Cooper should use more solar energy, save customers millions

Berkeley County News

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCBD) – A study released Thursday by the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Sierra Club and the Coastal Conservation League said Santee Cooper should find a path to use more solar energy.

Their study shows renewable energy, like solar, could save customers millions of dollars down the road.

These environmental groups are said they’re happy to see the fact that Santee Cooper is planning to close some of their coal power plants, but they believe more can be done.

“Santee Cooper’s new plan has much more solar energy, much more than they’ve ever done in the past,” said Blan Holman, Senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

But the Southern Law Center helped commission a study of the new Santee Cooper business plan that was announced Monday.

“Basically, you model these things and you let the different options compete against each other economically and the cheapest one wins for the cheapest scenario is solar power,” said Holman.

At their board meeting Monday, Santee Cooper announced about a 500% increase in their solar power production in the future.

The biggest area of disagreement may be with Santee Cooper’s plan to expand natural gas usage, which would involve adding pipelines.

These environmental groups believe Santee Cooper should move to 100% renewable power like solar panels in the future.

“Our plan, if you look at the economics–even if you’re adding batteries, solar is cheaper.”

But there is some agreement on both sides. Santee Cooper sent us a statement that says in part, “The Board of Santee Cooper just passed a new business forecast that calls for closing four coal-fired generating units, adding 1,000 megawatts of solar, and 150 megawatts of demand side, so we agree with this direction.”

“South Carolina, we are the Saudi Arabia of sun. We’ve got a lot of sun, you can put that out on the grid and sell it, which benefits customers.”

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