COLUMBIA, S.C. — Central Electric Power Cooperative plans to add more solar power to the mix of electricity sources used to supply electric cooperatives in South Carolina.
Central, the wholesale power aggregator for the state’s cooperatives, elected to participate in a request for proposals (RFP) from project developers that could produce as much as 500 megawatts (MW) of new solar-generated electricity.
“Cooperative consumers like sustainable energy sources such as solar,” said Rob Hochstetler, CEO of Central, “but they also want us to keep the cost of power competitive in the communities our member-cooperatives serve.”
The bid process will be conducted by Santee Cooper, one of Central’s suppliers, which sent the requests to almost 30 developers. With contracts ranging up to about 125 MW each, the locations of the projects could be spread to several areas of the state.
Utility-scale solar costs are declining as technology improves, and both utilities expect a joint RFP to benefit consumers through a more competitive process, even if the two organizations choose to contract independently. Developers will own the projects, and the two utilities will decide about how much of the solar power they choose to purchase together or individually.
As Central seeks a broader mix of generation sources, Santee Cooper’s announced resource plan includes adding up to 1,000 MW of solar power by 2024 and another 500 MW by 2031.
Developer bids are due July 30, after which Santee Cooper and Central will review them and potentially conclude negotiations in late 2020.
Central Electric Power Cooperative provides wholesale electricity from multiple sources to South Carolina’s 20 distribution cooperatives. Together, the independent, not-for-profit cooperatives supply power to almost 1.5 million South Carolinians through over 800,000 residential and business memberships. The members, who are the consumers, own the utilities. www.cepci.org