Big changes are coming for Santee Cooper.
Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility plant that has run throughout the state over 80 years and this year they a new business plan has been developed, buying cheaper electricity on the open market and closing four coal-fired plants near Georgetown in the coming decade.
Mark Bonsall, the new CEO of Santee Cooper, met with employees and Georgetown City Council recently to update them about the closure of the four plants. This transition from coal-fired power comes at a time when Santee Cooper is in the middle of convincing state lawmakers and the general assembly not to sell the state-run facility. Bonsall and members of Santee Cooper are developing future business plan that may include a job loss for employees.
With the rise of the economic and ecological cost of coal power, Winyah Generating Plants 1&2 will close 2027 and the others, 3&4, will close in 2023. Other closures are being looked at in the late 2030s. The state-run establishment also closed two other stations near Conway and Lake Moultrie.
With over 200 workers at the Winyah Generating Plants plants, this idling of the plants could man 50 positions to be reduced within the plants. Spokeswoman Mollie Gore, Manager of Corporate Communications of Santee Cooper, said that they still are looking to save as many jobs as possible and hopefully not make any layoffs.
"The station will continue to operate through 2027 so there will be opportunities for training and there will be certainly employees who decide to retire now and then," Gore said. "We're optimistic that will time on our side this is something that can be a transition that can be managed very successful."
The company also plans to identify retirement/vacancy options relocation or employees at other locations.
Gore says that the Load and Resource team came up with different scenarios to find a right balance between the best price and result.
"It's an intensive process, what we came out with was a pretty significant haul of our system that will maintain reliability and reduce our carbon footprints," Gore said.
In October and mid-November, Bonsall and senior members plan to have management presentations and new proposals to the participants in the process and visit the sites for their Due Diligence Process. When the legislature comes together in January 2020, the Department of Education will present the right proposal to manage Santee Cooper and Santee Cooper's own proposal.