Old Santee Cooper coal-fired plant will soon be history

Demolition of Santee Cooper’s nearly 50-year-old Grainger Generating Station near Conway will begin in May. The coal-fired, electricity-generating plant has been out of operation since late 2012.

A nearly 50-year-old relic of Santee Cooper’s coal-fired, electric-generating history will soon disappear.

Demolition work will begin in May on Grainger Generating Station near Conway. The power plant on U.S. Highway 501 was decommissioned in 2012 after providing 166 megawatts since 1966, or enough for about 76,300 homes.

Indiana-based National Salvage and Service Corp. will set up its equipment on site May 4. Tearing down the idle structure will start the following week, with interior equipment removed first. In June, the old coal-conveying system will be dismantled. The most visible portions, the red-and-white-striped smokestacks, won’t come down until early 2016.

Crews will work six days a week and up to 12 hours a day during daylight hours taking the structure apart. Officials at the state-owned utility expect noise from the demolition work to be minimal.

Once the structure has been razed, the ground will be layered with soil and graded. By next summer, it will be a grassy plot of land.

Ash recycling at Grainger’s two nearby ash ponds will continue through the dismantling process and over the next decade, Santee Cooper spokeswoman Nicole Aiello said. “Eventually, they will go back to their natural state,” she said.

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“The Grainger Generating Station was instrumental in lighting the Grand Strand,” she said. “Because of their visibility, we felt it was important to bring the plant down to its natural state.”

Moncks Corner-based Santee Cooper also shut down two coal-fired units at its Jefferies Generating Station on Lake Moultrie when it mothballed the Conway plant. Two oil-fired units remain at Jefferies, but they are not used, Aiello said. There are no immediate plans for Jefferies’ fate.

The plants were shuttered because they were among Santee Cooper’s oldest fossil fuel-powered generators and the cost to upgrade them to new federal environmental standards was prohibitive.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.