State-owned Santee Cooper has decided not to build a new $2.2 billion coal fired power plant in Florence County, South Carolina. Many had protested the plans for the coal plant because of its mercury and greenhouse gas emissions. The Southern Environmental Law Center hailed the decision as the right one and said it represents a larger national move away from coal.In a press release, board chair O.L. Thompson attributed the decision to possible cap-and-trade legislation, among other causes:
"We are witnessing three significant changes," the state-owned utility's chairman O.L. Thompson said. "The current recession has reduced overall demand for electricity, proposed federal government regulations would significantly increase the operating costs of coal-fired power plants and Central Electric Power Cooperative, our largest customer, intends to gradually reduce its power load from Santee Cooper by approximately 1,000 megawatts beginning in 2013."
The big winner here seems to be Duke Energy, which calls South Carolina’s neighbor to the north home. The Santee Cooper board decided to allow five upstate electric cooperatives to purchase power from Duke to offset the power Santee Cooper would have supplied.
Just yesterday The State, a South Carolina newspaper, published an editorial calling for the plant not to be built. They put forward many reasons, but neglected to mention global warming once. Nor did they give much space to discussing the impacts of climate change on South Carolina or the states potential for ramping up its production of renewable energy.