Saturday, August 22, 2009

Santee-Cooper To Scrap Kingsburg Coal Plant?


Economy vs. Environment Is a Tough Balancing Act .....
The years-long battle to build/not build a coal fired power plant in Lower Florence County reached another turning point yesterday, when the Chairman of Santee Cooper's Governing Board stated that the state-owned utility may end up scuttling plans to the plant in Kingsburg.
Santee-Cooper chair O.L. Thompson said yesterday that at Monday's meeting, they will consider allowing representatives of a number of electric cooperative in South Carolina to enter into an agreement with Duke Power to supply them with their electricity. By doing this, Santee Cooper would have a lower supply amount to reach, thus making the Pee Dee Plant unnecessary - at least for now.
There is probably no issue in the area more important - or more contraversial - than the Kingsburg Power Plant. It is split along not only political lines, but by business and environmental groups. For those of you not familiar, there really are two Florence Counties: The City of Florence, and Lower Florence County. Senator Hugh Leatherman and County Councilman and Lt. Gov. candidate Ken Ard, in whose district the plant would be built, are supporters of the plant, which would bring jobs to an area decimated by job losses from recent plant closings at Wellman in Johnsonville and Pamplico's Paper Mill. The Coastal Conservation League, based in Charleston, and Florence City Mayor Stephen Wukela have opposed the plant, citing rising Mercury and pollution levels in the Pee Dee River area.
The stakes are high. With an estimated cost at $2.2 Billion for the dual plant that Santee-Cooper would have liked to build, there is no doubt that the plant would change the economy of Lower Florence County forever. Yes, $2.2 billion is a lot of cash, and it would be cheaper to sub let the power from Duke, but the reasoning for it may be flawed. Foresight is an important skill in any field, but especially for a power company. Santee Cooper is citing a slow economy, and rising regulations costs from recent legislation as possible reasons for stopping construction. This thinking seems to lack foresight.....
Yeah, we are in the tail end of a recession, but you don't think in the short term when it comes to power needs. Large companies that actually produce products need energy in supply before they will move or expand a facility. Long term, power needs are always going to increase, so to think that a temporary leveling is how it's going to be from now on is ridiculous. Secondly, by giving up it's production capability, we are allowing South Carolina to become a power buyer, rather than a power supplier. Generally, that does not work well for the state, or it's residents - ask California how Enron treated them. South Carolina trails in thinking about the future in so many ways. Not preparing for future power needs would be a huge mistake.....
Nope, it's not easy to make decisions that satisfy both Business and Environmentalists. Not everyone will be happy when a final choice is made, but splitting the baby is tough. My advice would be to build the plant, and make it as efficient as possible, before we lose every manufacturer in the area, and eventually, in the state. Tourism does not pay all the bills - we need production, and to do that, we need power..... our own power.
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6 comments:

Eneils Bailey said...

I am intriqued at times with some successful, prosperous, and influential people who adopt causes that are economically disastrous.
The current generation owes their well being to ancestors who had enough insight to create the most dynamic economy on earth. They looked at progress and understood the consequences of no growth, and understood that some consequences come with progress. Contrary to some current beliefs, American industry has actually done a pretty good job in the last few decades of managing growth and ensuring we have a decent place to live.
This plant can be built and operated in such a way to protect people and the environment. How do ensure that there will be enough capacity to supply power for your kids, more houses, more schools, more factories. Just in case you don't know, you simply don't add more poles, more lines, more power receptacles to take care of your kids and grand kids. I have talked with some people, and they are serious, as to fixing the problem is a matter of poles, lines, and plugs. At some point, you have to increase generating capacity or we will be in for the rolling brown outs and black outs that were experienced in California a couple years ago.
Also, consider the money to be spent on building this plant.(2.2 billion dollars). That ain't chump changes, Larry, Moe, and Curly. And the jobs, it keeps the kids off the street. Seriously, jobs are really needed now. Both in construction and the on-going plant operation.
You can have progress.
You can have more power.
You can have a protected environment.
You can stop listening to people who have no clue as what it takes to ensure economic growth.

Remember, a lot of the vocal people in this anti-progress movement are people with political interests and some are people just trying to satisfy a personal indulgence they think makes them better than the "average Joe."

Mike Reino said...

Well put, Eneils. Welcome to the blog, and feel free to comment anytime..

Moye Graham said...

I want them to build it myself. Rather it be nuclear but what ever. It will mean jobs and Florence needs them and the surrounding area. The problem is Santee Cooper is a state owned utility and should be private.

Mike Reino said...

Sanford tried to do that, but it didn't go too well...

pluvlaw said...

First, let's remember that, by their own admission, the plant would only be a stop-gap measure. Coal-fired plants are so done that every company that was building them have stopped. There's no money in it. It is an obsolete technology that is extremely harmful.

Second, what jobs are you looking forward to? B/c the only ones most local folks would be able to get are ones during construction and that's it. Once it is built, those jobs are gone and a good deal of the operating jobs are not going to be for folks from that area.

Third, exactly what business are we gonna lose if we don't build this plant? If the amount of electricity is really an issue we could take a fraction of the money this plant would require and properly insulate the older houses in the Pee Dee and we'd save more electricity than we would produce at that plant. Or how about redoing some of our local power grids? That money would be well spent, as such fixes would not be a "stop gap" measure, rather they represent smart, lasting improvements that would actualy benefit generations of South Carolinians. Building this plant is doing nothing for future generations. It's a band-aid over a gaping wound, used when there are better alternatives around.

Lastly, as someone who has fished and hunted the Pee Dee river my entire life, I hold no faith that this plant will not further pollute the main river system of our area. Several species of fish from the Pee Dee are already on the "dangerous" list while there are also health advisements against eating small quantities per month. If that sludge flood in Tennessee did not scare you about this plant, it should. The plans for this plant call for those same kind of earthen retention ponds right on the banks of the Pee Dee.

Do you know how coal fired plants work? Every day, a mile long train of coal comes through the area to the plant. The coal is not just fed into a furnace. No...it's pulverized into a fine dust, that is injected into the furnaces. Coal dust burns hotter than lumps of coal. You cannot contain coal dust. It is impossible. No matter what kind of catches and scrubbers you use, dust will get out. And what the catchers and scrubbers catch, guess what...it's gotta be moved to the sludge ponds. How's that happen? By truck. Anyone want to take a guess at how much coal dust a dump truck carrying coal dust loses driving from the plant to the pond? How about a dozen trucks? Constantly? How's that crap get in the pond? It's dumped. Think that dust isn't going to settle on the river right by the ponds?

That's to say nothing of the carbon emmissions, for which there is no way to trap them. They just float on up into the atmosphere.

There is no such thing as clean coal. It is a fact that the local environment will be harmfully affected. History has shown that we can't count on DHEC to monitor things and keep up informed, let alone safe. If you think DHEC does an adequate job of protecting the environment, you're crazy.

There is a reason DNR, every environmental and conservation group and all of our neighboring states are against this plant. It is a WASTE of money and it comes at the expense of our health and future energy needs.

Anonymous said...

where do you think Duke gets its energy? China? They have 2 nuclear generating plants in SC w/ plans to build another in Gaffney. Duke is so more efficient than Santee Cooper because they answer to investors rather than good 'ol boys.