A Santee Cooper spokeswoman says work to demolish a shuttered coal plant outside Conway has been pushed back a few weeks.
The state-owned power utility had initially said crews with National Salvage and Service Corporation would start interior work on Monday at the former Grainger Generating Station. But spokeswoman Mollie Gore said the company had fallen behind due to weather delays on a previous project. But she said the contractor planned to begin work within the next two weeks.
“About the middle of May, people will start to see them coming in, bringing in some of the support infrastructure, mobilizing to prepare to start demolition,” she told South Carolina Radio Network.
She said crews would work six days a week, first starting demolition of the coal conveying equipment in June, followed by removal of buildings on the site over the next six months. She said the last structure to come down will likely be Grainger’s two prominent smokestacks. The utility believes work should wrap up by summer 2016.
Grainger Generating Station was already being used in only a limited capacity when Santee Cooper retired it in 2012. The utility said that year it would phase out older coal-fired plants because of the cost to comply with new federal air emissions standards. Santee Cooper has reduced the share of coal power in its generating capacity.
“Even as recently as five or six years ago, we were about 75 or 80 percent coal in terms of the electricity that we generated,” Gore said. “The past couple of years, the percent of coal has dropped to about 55 or 60 percent. So there’s been a noticeable change.”
Gore said Santee Cooper is relying more on its natural gas station and has been expanding its use of solar and other renewables. The utility also plans to pull power from two nuclear reactors that South Carolina Electric and Gas is building in Fairfield County.
Removal of coal ash from the site will not be affected by the work, Gore said.