Santee Cooper

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Santee Cooper
South Carolina Public Service Authority
Public Power Utility
Industry Electric and Water Utility
Founded 1934
Headquarters Moncks Corner, SC

Santee Cooper, also known officially from the 1930s as the South Carolina Public Service Authority, is South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility that came into being during the New Deal as both a rural electrification and public works project that created two lakes and cleared large tracts of land while building hydro-electric dams and power plants. Its headquarters are located in Moncks Corner, South Carolina.

As one of the largest power providers in South Carolina, Santee Cooper directly serves more than 165,000 residential and commercial customers in Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry counties. With a diverse fuel and energy supply of coal, nuclear, oil, gas, hydro and some renewable energy, Santee Cooper supplies power to the cities of Bamberg and Georgetown, 30 large industrial customers, and Charleston Air Force Base. Santee Cooper generates the power distributed by some of South Carolina's electric cooperatives.


A board of directors appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate governs Santee Cooper. A board member represents each congressional district and each of the three counties where Santee Cooper serves retail customers directly; one board member has previous electric cooperative experience; and the chairman is appointed at-large.

In September 2017, CEO Lonnie Carter announced his retirement following the decision to abandon construction of two new AP1000 nuclear reactors at the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station, leaving Santee Cooper with debts of about $4.4 billion for the partial construction. For his leadership and vision, Carter is projected to receive over $800,000 a year in retirement. [1] Bill payers are suing Santee Cooper over the costs of the project.[2]

Santee Cooper Lakes[edit]

The Santee Cooper Power and Navigation Project, constructed in 1939, improved navigation on and provided hydroelectric power from the Santee and Cooper rivers in South Carolina. With the creation of Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, the project was intended to improve the health, recreation, and economy of the area. At the time, the Santee Cooper Project was the largest land-clearing project in U.S. history, with over 12,500 workers clearing over 177,000 acres (720 km2) of swamp and forestland. 42 miles (68 km) of dams and dikes were constructed, including a 26-mile (42 km), 78-foot (24 m) tall earthen dike. The Pinopolis Dam included the hydroelectric station and navigation lock, the highest single-lift lock in the world. A 3,400-foot (1,000 m) spillway was built to control floodwaters, with 62 gates allowing overflow of excess water. In completing the largest earth-moving project in the nation's history, 42,000,000 cubic yards (32,000,000 m3) of earth were moved and 3.1 million cubic yards of concrete were poured.

The $48.2 million project (55 percent federal loan, 45 percent federal grant) first generated electricity on February 17, 1942. As transmission lines were built, power flowed to customers in Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry counties, and ultimately to electric cooperatives serving customers in 46 counties.

Biomass plant[edit]

A biomass plant to generate electricity for Santee Cooper will open in Newberry County, South Carolina in 2011[3]


  1. ^ "Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter announces retirement amid nuclear reactor collapse". South Strand News. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Shain, Andy (2 September 2017). "South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster considering firing Santee Cooper board". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  3. ^ "Rollcast Energy to build S.C. biomass facility". Charlotte Business Journal. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 

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