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While almost all South Carolinians know our state’s lakes are great for summertime, few know the energy industry’s contribution to ensuring they stay as pristine as we know them to be.
Lake Marion, the largest lake in the state, not only provides the people of South Carolina with great fishing, swimming, and boating but also, electricity! Lakes like Lake Marion and Moultrie, those which are managed by electric utilities, are guaranteed to be handled with far-reaching public oversight to ensure they are held to consistent standards across the country.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is responsible for regulating the construction, operation, and maintenance of non-federal hydropower project. The FERC’s key to this management of aquatic environments is comprehensive long-term Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) which according to the FERC, “manages the multiple resources and uses of the project’s shorelines in a manner that is consistent with license requirements and project purposes, and addresses the needs of the public.” This means if Santee Cooper is sold, the management of lakes such as Lake Marion and Moultrie will still be regulated in the same way they are today. The SMP will not change even if the owner does.
A utility cannot simply choose to switch SMPs whenever if feels the will to do so. The FERC is diligent and thorough in its responsibility in managing these non-federal hydropower sources and not all proposed changes in SMPs are approved. If the sale of Santee Cooper goes through, our prized lakes in South Carolina will not change, but stay consistent with the management they have been under in the past. The FERC ensures this throughout the nation.
Read more from Energy Consumers of the Carolinas here.