South Carolina and the Energy Consumer
South Carolina’s public energy roots trace back at least to 1846 with the Charleston Gas Light Company. It was the United States Electric illuminating Company of Charleston that was the first electric central station for incandescent lighting in October 1882, a month after Thomas Edison opened his Pearl Street plant in New York City.
In the past few years:
- South Carolina’s four nuclear power plants supplied about 58 percent of the state’s net electricity generation (2017 figure). All carbon-free electricity.
- Natural gas deliveries to South Carolina’s electric power sector roughly tripled in a decade as gas became a quick-to-build, modest-carbon source for power.
- Coal, once a foundation for electric fuel, is decreasing.
- Renewable energy is about 6 percent of net electricity generation with nearly equal amounts from conventional hydroelectric power and biomass-fueled generation.
- Another kind of hydro-power, pumped storage, serves SC well: Higher elevation lakes drain through turbines to create electricity when extra energy is needed, then lakes are refilled for their next use.
- South Carolina’s unquestioned leadership in nuclear energy took a hit as two reactors under construction were suspended. Dominion Energy finalized its merger with SCANA, the utility building the reactors, in January 2019.
- Renewables grow, as in so many states.
- Gas generation continues to be a popular option.
- South Carolina has three biodiesel plants with a combined annual production capacity of about 35 million gallons.
- Customers see new leverage as technology makes energy efficiency and local generation possible as never before.
Energy Consumers of the Carolinas devotes this space to issues in South Carolina: Observations, questions, and viewpoints from people across a spectrum of energy and consumer interests.