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Cooperative to seek more solar power

Central Electric Power Cooperative, the power supplier for South Carolina’s electric cooperatives, will be adding new renewable solar energy to its resource portfolio, a decision made November 11, 2020, by its board of trustees.

The solar-generated power to serve Central’s wholesale power needs, as much as 363 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity, will be obtained through power purchase agreements (PPAs) with independent solar developers.

The pursuit of PPAs independent of Santee Cooper comes through Central’s contract with the state-owned utility, which allows the cooperative to opt-out of Santee Cooper’s new generating sources.

Earlier this year, the two utilities issued a joint request for proposals to developers for up to 500 MW. They evaluated 58 bids representing 3,625 MW total. Santee Cooper proposed developing the renewable power supply as a joint resource, but Central determined it would be more cost-effective to pursue its own contracts, even if with the same developers contracting with Santee Cooper.

In its meeting on November 11, 2020, the Central board decided to opt out and to contract directly for its allowed share of the 500MW.

“This will give us great long-term flexibility as well as lower pricing of renewable resources for the benefit of our member cooperatives,” said Robert C. Hochstetler, Central’s CEO. Central’s agreements with developers should be completed in a matter of months, and the solar power generation should be online sometime in 2023.

Discussions are continuing with a short list of developers. Central and Santee Cooper will continue to coordinate in the process but will execute separate agreements.

Central Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. provides wholesale electric service to South Carolina’s 20 independent, not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Together, the cooperatives supply power to almost 1.5 million South Carolinians through more than 800,000 accounts. The members, who are the consumers, own the utilities.

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