The Santee Cooper board of directors in Moncks Corner, S.C., announced its decision to suspend efforts to build the proposed Pee Dee Energy Campus, an estimated $2.2-billion coal power plant in Florence County, S.C.

The state-owned utility cited reduced overall demand for electricity and proposed federal government regulations that would increase the operating costs of coal-fired power plants as reasons for scuttling the project.

Santee Cooper’s sales are down 5% from last year. The utility’s president and CEO Lonnie Carter stated in a news release: “The recession’s impact on our industrial customers has been significant. In addition, we anticipate that as the economy recovers from this economic downturn, long-term power needs will be lower.”

Carter cited too the proposed federal government regulations, specifically the cap-and-trade legislation.

“The bill calls for carbon capture and sequestration technology to be placed on new plants by 2025, and there currently exists no technology to do that,” he stated. “The cost of the technology and the carbon tax are unknown and expected to be high, and this uncertainty causes great concern for Santee Cooper in considering future coal plants.”

Additionally, the utility’s largest customer, the Central Electric Power Cooperative, intends to reduce its power load from Santee Cooper and acquire that power from another supplier.

“Reducing Central’s power load requirement from Santee Cooper obviously affects the need for the 600-megawatt Pee Dee Energy Campus,” Carter stated.