South Carolina Electric & Gas has closed one of its Lowcountry power plants.
SCE&G announced Wednesday its Canadys Station plant near Walterboro went off-line last week. The coal-powered plant on the Edisto River closed after more than 50 years of operation.
The Cayce-based utility said the closure is part of the company’s efforts to reduce emissions due to what it called “more stringent environmental regulations” that will take effect in 2015. SCE&G had originally planned to convert the coal-fired plant into natural gas and leave it in operation until 2017, but the company said it decided to close the plant after evaluating its system needs.
SCE&G executives said the company is retiring its older coal plants and expanding its nuclear capacity in order to comply with stricter federal air emissions standards.
“Once our new nuclear units are complete, we anticipate our generation capacity will be about 30 percent nuclear, 30 percent natural gas and 30 percent scrubbed coal, with the balance in hydro and some renewable resources,” President of Generation and Transmission and Chief Operating Officer Steve Byrne said in a statement. “With this portfolio, about 60 percent of our annual generation will be non-carbon-emitting. Additionally, we’ll have the flexibility to take advantage of whatever generation option makes economic and environmental sense for our customers at any given point in time.”
The company said decommissioning Canadys Station is expected to take a number of years, as the plant is demolished and a new facility is built to handle excess amounts of coal ash byproducts that are left behind on the site. Spokeswoman Emily Brady said about 20 employees will remain at Canadys during the process, which will take about three years.
Sheree Bernardi of Charleston affiliate WTMA contributed to this report