Dominion Energy South Carolina now says it can retire coal-fired power generation by 2030, a significant reversal from plans released by the utility just last year.
Dominion’s new 15-year plan said shuttering two coal plants and converting a third to natural gas is the best option by multiple measures. Natural gas would mostly replace the coal generation.
The utility took over S.C. Electric & Gas in 2019 and serves customers around Charleston, Columbia, Aiken, Orangeburg and Beaufort. Its initial proposal could have kept at least one coal furnace running until 2071. That plan was turned down in December by the S.C. Public Service Commission.
In a hearing beforehand, commissioners questioned whether Dominion was following its parent company’s goals of ultimately taking carbon emissions to net-zero. Now, the utility’s preferred path would close the coal-fired Williams Station in Goose Creek by 2028, close the Wateree Station in Eastover that same year, and convert the Cope Station to gas-only by 2030.
Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Gudrun Thompson said the revised plan is a huge improvement, but the gas reliance makes the bigger picture a “mixed bag.” She said it may become less economically feasible if stricter rules to fight climate change come into play on the federal level.
Dominion was ordered to rework its proposal at the end of last year after the utility-regulating PSC said some of the base assumptions in the work were wrong. The commission was given significantly more power to scrutinize utilities’ plans in a 2019 state law. Dominion was the first utility to submit a plan after that change.