Lower carbon emissions reported from S.C. Electric Cooperatives
Electric cooperatives have released data showing a decline in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released to generate the electricity they provide to 1.5 million South Carolinians. Between 2005 and 2020, their CO2 emissions dropped by 41 percent, far surpassing the national 17 percent reduction target used by the United States. A new report from Central Electric Power Cooperative — the wholesale power buyer for the state’s 20 independent, member-owned utilities — also projects that by 2027, emissions will fall by 47 percent from 2005 levels. Cooperatives are achieving this result by 1) adopting new technologies that do not rely on burning fossil fuels to produce electricity, 2) urging their power suppliers to close older, coal-burning power plants and 3) making agreements with power suppliers whose generating portfolios have lower emissions. Burning fossil fuels such as coal to make electricity releases CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Reducing these emissions plays a key role in protecting our environment. By 2027, electric cooperatives in South Carolina could see at least a 47 percent reduction in CO2. Central Electric released the projections based on data from its own suppliers. “This kind of progress should be celebrated, and Central is proud of the accomplishment,” said Rob Hochstetler, Central’s CEO. “But we have urged our power suppliers, especially Santee Cooper, to accelerate the retirement of uneconomic coal-burning power plants.” Specifically, Central has encouraged Santee Cooper to accelerate the retirement of four coal-burning units at the Winyah Generation Station near Georgetown, which the state-owned utility has announced will be closed — two in 2023 and two in 2027. Central has power purchase agreements with Santee Cooper, Duke Energy Carolinas and the Southeastern Power Administration. These suppliers produce electricity using coal, natural gas, nuclear, and water at hydroelectric dams, but the use of coal is being reduced. Central also has a growing list of power purchasing agreements with solar developers, more of which may be announced this month. “That’s the beauty of our approach to power supply,” said Hochstetler. “Rather than owning power plants, we make power purchase agreements. As agreements expire, we’re able to bring in electricity from more environmentally friendly sources such as solar.” “Clearly, the power purchase approach works on a large scale because electric cooperatives serve a third of the state’s population,” Hochstetler said.