Bioenergy

Green Power Station to Produce Methane in South Carolina

Santee Cooper, Waste Management and Tri-County Electric Cooperative dedicated the Richland County Generating Station, which is the third “Green Power” generating facility for state-owned utility Santee Cooper. Through a process conducted at the 124-acre landfill, methane gas produced by decomposing waste will fuel a 5.5-megawatt (MW) gas-turbine generator at the $8.5 million facility.

“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 MW of energy — enough to power 250,000 homes.” In September 2001, Santee Cooper became the first electric utility in South Carolina to generate and offer Green Power to customers from the 3.3-MW Horry County Landfill Generating Station near Conway. Since then, more than 3,300 residential and commercial customers across the state have purchased more than 12,000 100-kWh blocks of this renewable energy. The company is also constructing a similar Green Power station at the Anderson Regional Landfill near Belton. 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. “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.” 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 generating station offers the same environmental benefit as planting and maintaining more than 7,100 acres of trees, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s e-Grid SERC Subregion System Average. The plant entered commercial operation on February 28.