Date: March 17, 2006
Source: Santee Cooper; Waste Management
Santee Cooper, Waste Management and Tri-County Electric Cooperative today dedicated the Richland County Generating Station, state-owned utility Santee Cooper's third "Green Power" generating facility.
The generating station is located at Waste Management's Richland County Landfill near Elgin. The dedication event was held at Clemson University's Sandhill Research and Education Center near Columbia.
Through a process at the 124-acre landfill, methane gas produced by decomposing waste fuels a 5.5-megawatt gas-turbine generator at the $8.5 million facility. Methane gas is considered to be a renewable energy source because it is created through natural decomposition of organic materials. The electricity produced is called "green power." The plant entered commercial operation Feb. 28.
"Santee Cooper continually looks for ways to protect the environment through alternative sources while at the same time diversifying our fuel mix," said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper's president and chief executive officer. "This latest Green Power facility demonstrates Santee Cooper's commitment to use South Carolina's renewable resources, which ultimately benefits our customers and adds value to the state."
"Our landfill provides a clean and affordable source of alternative energy," said Zane Ferris, Waste Management's district manager. "Waste Management is proud to operate a facility that will actively help produce green energy and contribute to the health of the environment. We currently supply landfill gas to nearly 62 gas projects in North America, providing more than 280-megawatts of energy-enough to power 250,000 homes."
In September 2001, Santee Cooper became the first electric utility in the state to generate and offer Green Power to customers from the 3.3-MW Horry County Landfill Generating Station near Conway.
Santee Cooper is also constructing a similar Green Power station at the Anderson Regional Landfill near Belton. It is projected to enter commercial operation within the next two months.
Santee Cooper's more than 150,000 customers in Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry counties, the municipal electric utility in Georgetown, and 16 of the state's 20 electric cooperatives offer the option to purchase Green Power. Electric cooperatives in South Carolina have Santee Cooper as their source of power for nearly 100 percent of their energy needs.
Tri-County Electric Cooperative, based in St. Matthews, S.C., serves the Richland County site and offers Green Power to their 18,000 customers. The cooperative worked with Santee Cooper to connect the station to the area's electrical grid.
"The new generating station on Screaming Eagle Road and the entire Green Power program proves that Santee Cooper and the electric cooperatives truly care about our future," said Tri-County Electric Cooperative Chief Executive Officer Bob Paulling. "It is vital that we find innovative new ways to produce energy for our children and grandchildren to lessen the dependence on fossil fuels."
The Green Power program is offered to residential customers in blocks of 100-kilowatt-hours each. Because it costs more to produce Green Power than by conventional means, a $3 premium is charged on a customer's monthly electric bill. The Green Power program is completely voluntary. Commercial customers are offered Green Power in blocks of 200-kwh each for a $6 premium.
Santee Cooper's Green Power Program has achieved national Green-e certification through the Center for Resource Solutions, based in California. Green-e certified utility programs are verified annually for their power content to ensure that the electricity provider selling the power has met the Green-e Program's environmental and consumer protection standards. Green-e is the nation's leading industry certification and verification program for renewable energy products.
Since September 2001, more than 3,300 residential and commercial customers across the state have purchased over 12,000 100-kwh blocks of this renewable energy.
"With the steady depletion of fossil fuels as an energy source, we're continually exploring viable ways to produce electricity," said Ferris. "The use of methane gas, which occurs naturally in the ongoing decomposition of a landfill, has been proven as a renewable and environmentally friendly option to electricity generation."
The project demonstrates the energy potential and environmental advantages of landfill gas conversion and the companies shared objective of leading the way toward a greater use of alternative resources.
The Richland County Station has the same environmental benefit as planting and maintaining over 7,100 acres of trees, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's e-Grid SERC Subregion System Average.
About Waste Management
Waste Management Inc. is its industry's leading provider of comprehensive waste management services. Based in Houston, Texas, the firm serves municipal, commercial, industrial and residential customers throughout North America. Operational since 1972, the Richland County Landfill is permitted to accept up to 851,000 tons of solid waste annually. Approximately 99 percent of that waste originates in a 75-mile radius from the facility.
About Tri-County Electric Cooperative
Tri-County Electric Cooperative serves approximately 18,000 customers in Calhoun, Kershaw, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland and Sumter counties. Based in St. Matthews, the cooperative has district offices in Eastover and Santee. Tri-County Electric Cooperative is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.
About Santee Cooper
Santee Cooper is South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility and serves more than 150,000 residential and commercial customers in Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry counties. Based in Moncks Corner, the utility also generates the power distributed by the state's 20 electric cooperatives to more than 650,000 customers in all 46 counties. All total, almost 2 million South Carolinians receive their power directly or indirectly from Santee Cooper.