Santee Cooper was the first utility to generate renewable energy in South Carolina, beginning in 2001 with a landfill generating station at the Horry County Landfill. Today’s dedication brings to six the number of Santee Cooper renewable Green Power stations with a total capacity of 28 megawatts of electricity, and it signals continued commitment by the state-owned utility to environmental stewardship in Berkeley County and throughout South Carolina.
The Berkeley project generates electricity through two 1.6-MW Caterpillar engine generators fed by a system of pipes and wells that collects methane gas created as debris in the landfill decays. The power generated at the station is distributed through Berkeley Electric Cooperative’s system.
“This is a great environmental story, for several reasons,” said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and CEO. “Landfill gas is a cost-effective source of renewable energy. Landfill gas as a generating fuel source also solves an environmental problem, by removing methane gas from the environment. Finally, by converting the methane gas into electricity, we are making sure that a reliable source of energy doesn’t go to waste.”
Decomposing landfill waste produces methane, a gas 21 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. To reduce the impact of the landfill, methane can be collected instead of released directly. Once collected, the methane can be burned directly or used to generate electricity in a power generating station. BCWS owns and operates approximately 60 landfill-gas extraction wells at its county landfill. That gas is captured in wells and piped to Santee Cooper's new Berkeley Green Power Generating Station. There, the gas will generate up to 3 MWs of electricity—enough to power 1,500 average-sized homes in the Southeast.
Berkeley County’s road to supporting sustainability practices first began back in 1991 when the Berkeley County Council authorized BCWS to develop regulations and procedures to manage its sold waste and the operation of its solid waste facilities—with an eye on making it more sustainable and cost efficient. Today’s dedication continues the county’s progress in that important arena.
Santee Cooper is South Carolina’s state-owned electric and water utility, and the state’s largest power producer. The ultimate source of electricity for 2 million South Carolinians, Santee Cooper is dedicated to being the state’s leading resource for improving the quality of life for the people of South Carolina. For more information, visit www.santeecooper.com.