Two small companies will generate enough electricity from renewable resources to power 1,600 homes for state-owned utility Santee Cooper under a deal announced Monday.

Santee Cooper said its board of directors approved 20-year contracts with W2E-Organic Power of Columbia and BioEnergy Technologies of Sumter to supply a total of 3.2 megawatts of power.

The dollar value of the deals was not disclosed.

W2E-Organic Power plans to build a 1.6-megawatt generating station in Columbia that will by fueled by biogas sources such as food waste, grease and yard waste. The company will transmit its power to Santee Cooper.

BioEnergy Technologies will use pre-consumer food waste, grease, food processing waste and wastewater sludge to generate another 1.6 megawatts at a facility planned for Berkeley County. The electricity will delivered to Santee Cooper through Berkeley Electric Cooperative's distribution system.

With state permitting accomplished, W2EľOrganic Power could begin delivering power to Santee Cooper within a year. BioEnergy Technologies will begin the permitting process soon and expects to deliver its power in late 2012. The site in Berkeley County has not been selected.

The contracts take Santee Cooper's total renewable generation to 187 megawatts in operation or under contract, using landfill biogas, solar energy, wind energy, woody biomass and anaerobic digestion. The biggest source is forest waste and other woody biomass, with online and contracted generation totaling 154 megawatts.

Anaerobic digestion captures methane gas that is produced through the decomposition of organic materials in an airtight container, and uses that methane gas to generate electricity.

'Santee Cooper continues to look for practical projects like these as part of our balanced plan to meet South Carolina's energy needs with electricity that is reliable, affordable and environmentally protective,' said Marc Tye, the utility's senior vice president of customer service.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524.