Grainger Generating Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Dolphus M. Grainger Generating Station is a 163.2-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by Santee Cooper near Conway, South Carolina.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: South Carolina Public Service Authority
  • Parent Company: Santee Cooper
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 163.2 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 81.6 MW (1966), Unit 2: 81.6 MW (1966)
  • Location: 1605 Marina Dr., Conway, SC 29526
  • GPS Coordinates: 33.826667, -79.049278
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Both units retired in 2012.[1]

Unit Retirements

The station was first idled and then shut down in 2012, but legal issues remain over the its unlined coal ash ponds, which have been found exceeding federal limits for arsenic.[2]

Coal Source

On its website Santee Cooper states that coal for the plant is sourced from Kentucky. It does not state which company or mine supplies the station.[3]

Pollution controls

On March 16, 2002 the U.S. EPA, the Department of Justice and the State of South Carolina announced a New Source Review requirements settlment with the South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) to address alleged Clean Air Act violations at several of its coal-fired power plants in the state.

Under the settlement agreement Santee Cooper will spend approximately $400 million until 2012 to install pollution control devices to decrease emissions at its Winyah Generating Station, Cross Generating Station, Jefferies Generating Station and Grainger Generating Station. In April of 2002 the U.S. Public Research Interest Group released a study stating that Santee's Winyah plant had one of the nation's most significant increases in pollution between 1995 and 2000.[4]

The EPA estimates that 70,000 tons of SO2 (contributor to acid rain and cardiovascular disease) and NOx (contributor to ground-level ozone, acid rain and global warming) emissions will be reduced annually from Santee Cooper's four coal-fired plants in South Carolina. In addition the company was forced to pay a $700,000 fine to the State of South Carolina and $1.3 million in civil penalty fines to the federal government. Santee Cooper is also forced to spend at least $4.5 million to finance "environmentally beneficial" projects in the state.[5]

Plant idled, then shut

In 2012 Santee Cooper idled the station, and decided in October 2012 not to reopen, saying it would be too costly to comply with the EPA's new Mercury and Air Toxins Standard for air emissions.[6]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 976,788 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions:
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions:
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions:

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Grainger Generating Station

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[7] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[8]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Grainger Generating Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 13 $92,000,000
Heart attacks 18 $2,000,000
Asthma attacks 210 $11,000
Hospital admissions 9 $220,000
Chronic bronchitis 8 $3,400,000
Asthma ER visits 12 $4,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Coal waste


In April 2013 the Southern Environmental Law Center filed two lawsuits in state court alleging that Santee Cooper had violated the state’s Pollution Control Act. The lawsuit alleges that Santee Cooper has known since at least the mid-1990s that arsenic levels of up to 300 times the federal safe limits have been seeping into groundwater around the unlined ash ponds, which are adjacent to the Waccamaw River. The Center asked a judge to force Santee Cooper to move pollution from the ash ponds - which total abut 82 acres - to an offsite, lined landfill and clean up the groundwater so it meets federal drinking water standards.

The Coalition for Clean Energy also sued the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control over its failure to act on a permit application that would have limited the amount of pollution discharged from the Grainger facility.

Groundwater testing at the Grainger site has repeatedly shown arsenic levels ranging from 100 parts per billion to 900 parts per billion – much higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum safe level of 10 parts per billion. Arsenic levels of up to 3,225 parts per billion have been recorded at the site, according to the lawsuit.[9]

Ash dams

In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Santee Cooper's Senior Vice President Corporate Services, R.M. Singletary, stated that the ash impoundment at Grainger was "originally designed for both fly ash and bottom ash storage" but is "currently receiving only minimal fly ash" due to the use of most of it in building products and agricultural metarials. Singletary stated that "the fly ash is transported to a Carbon Burnout facility at our Winyah Generating Station where it is processed for use by the concrete industry. All of Santee Cooper's FGD systems are a forced oxidation process, which makes gypsum, which is a beneficial byproduct. Gypsum is recycled into wallboard at a facility located adjacent to the Winyah Generating Station, and also sold for agriculture and other uses."[10]

In an accompanying letter Santee Cooper's Vice President Generation, Phil Pearce, stated that:[11]

  • Ash Pond number 1 was constructed in 1966 and expanded in 1967. The 7 foot high pond contains fly ash, bottom ash and boiler slag. The surface area of the pond is 42.5 acres and, as of March 18, 2009 contained 268 acre feet of material. The total storage capacity of the pond is 298 acre feet;
  • Ash Pond number 2 was constructed in 1977 and expanded in 1990. The 13 foot high pond contains fly ash, bottom ash and boiler slag. The surface area of the pond is 39 acres and, as of January 22, 2006 stored 170 acre feet of waste. The total storage area is 429 acre feet.

Pearce stated that the ponds are not regulated either by state or federal agencies though the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) "performs periodic NPDES inspections and because these Units are permitted industrial treatment facilities for station wastewater, the SCDHEC inspection incorporates a review of the operation of the bottom ash ponds and the permitted discharge."

Opposing federal environmental regulations on greenhouse gases and other pollution

In February 2011, Santee Cooper's CEO and President, Lonnie Carter appeared before the U.S. House of Representatives House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Water to oppose moves by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases (GHG)under the Clean Air Act. Appearing before the committee Carter boasted that Santee Cooper has "197 megawatts of renewable generation already online or under contract." However, he made no mention of the utility's heavy relianace on coal-fired power. In his testimony Carter complained about the potential impact of the EPA's move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through "new source performance standards".[12]

"There is currently no off-the-shelf technology available to address GHG emissions at a commercial scale - making it different in like and kind from other emissions regulated under the Clean Air Act. New construction projects will likely be significantly delayed because there is no clarity in how to address GHG in PSD [ed: Prevention of Significant Deterioration] permits. EPA's failure to provide the necessary tools, information, and direction will lead to permits being delayed, and complex legal challenges to permits. The Clean Air Act was simply not designed to address GHG emissions. The policy to limit GHG emissions should be set by Congress. Continuing on a path toward regulating GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act could stifle the already slow permitting process, raise costs, and limit economic development and industrial growth around our country at a time when we need jobs the most," he stated.[12]

Carter also flagged the utility's opposition to possible EPA moves to regulate "new rules over the next few years, including coal ash, maximum available control technology standards, cooling water intake rules, air quality standards for ozone, lead and particulate matter". Regulation these aspects of power generation industry, he claimed, they they "individually, they represent sizeable cost impacts. Together, they could be enough to significantly curtail economic development and may force the premature closing of low cost, reliable power facilities that keep our nation running."[12]

Articles and Resources


  1. "EIA 860 database 2019" Accessed October 18, 2020
  2. David Wren, "Another lawsuit filed over pollution at Conway’s Grainger plant,", April 29, 2013.
  3. Santee Cooper, "Santee Cooper is South Carolina's PowerHouse: Grainger", Santee Cooper brochure, February 2004.
  4. "Winyah, S.C., Power Plant Saw Pollution Levels Increase Significantly" Kevin Wiatrowsk, The Sun News, April 5, 2002
  5. "South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) Clean Air Act Civil Settlement South Carolina," U.S. EPA, March 16, 2002
  6. Steve Jones, "Conway coal power plant closed for good,", October 19, 2012.
  7. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  8. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  9. David Wren, "Another lawsuit filed over pollution at Conway’s Grainger plant,", April 29, 2013.
  10. R.M. Singletary, Senior Vice President Corporate Services, Santee Cooper, [ "RE: South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) Response to EPA's Requests for Information Under Section l04(e) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C.9604(e)"], Marchg 25, 2009.
  11. Phil Pearce, Santee Cooper's Vice President Generation, "Response to United States Environmental Protection Agency Request for Information dated March 9,2009: Cross Generating Station", March 25, 2009.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Lonnie Carter, Oral Testimony of Santee Cooper President & CEO Lonnie Carter Before the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee, February 9, 2011.

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