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South Carolina Energy Hearing: Google Gets Put On Blast

Dominion Energy’s Keller Kissam drops the hammer on proposed Lowcountry data center …

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Keller Kissam – president and chief executive officer of Dominion Energy‘s South Carolina operations – is not known for mincing words. In an industry full of beta bureaucrats and special interest sycophants all spouting woke, platitudinal pablum for the corporate media, Kissam is a rare unfiltered alpha – dropping hard truths with unflinching force.

Like a hammer.

Kissam’s bluntness was on display back in June when South Carolina governor Henry McMaster convened an energy summit in Columbia. It was on display again this week at the S.C. State House as an “economic development and utility modernization” panel formed by S.C. House speaker Murrell Smith heard testimony on a variety of energy issues.

Smith formed this panel last September with the stated goal of helping South Carolina “harness her diverse, dynamic position and maximize her full economic potential.” According to our sources, its goal for the upcoming legislative session is to craft an energy bill to help facilitate the creation of additional national gas infrastructure.

I support those efforts … along with other proposed expansions of domestic capacity.

Per usual, Kissam dispensed with the pleasantries during this week’s gathering and told committee chairman Jay West that those testifying before his panel were permitted to their own opinions … just not their own physics.

“We can all have opinions about what we wanna do but when you get in there and actually see the load come in, you see the weather come in – you see the sun shining or not shining – and you see all these units coming online to try to meet that load in concert, then you’re dealing with physics and facts, and not opinion,” Kissam said.

(Click to View)

Inside system control at Dominion Energy’s Cayce, S.C. headquarters. (Dominion Energy)

Kissam reminded lawmakers of the brutal 2022 winter storm that forced Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy – a definitional woke pablum purveyor – to cut power to nearly 500,000 customers on Christmas Eve.

Duke had controversially jacked rates on its Palmetto State customers just two months before the outages – its second major rate hike within the last three years. Those rate hikes came after the company attempted to pass off billions of dollars in costs to South Carolina ratepayers as a result of its catastrophic mismanagement of its energy mix.

Dominion was far better prepared for the winter storm than Duke, but Kissam told lawmakers his company was still unable to rely on renewables as demand spiked.

Dominion has more than 1,000 megawatts of solar generation capacity – with plans to add another 400-500 megawatts in the coming three to four years. That’s roughly twenty percent of its total generation capacity – an impressive commitment.

“I’m proud we have that many renewables on our system,” Kissam said. “I’m glad we have it. It’s part of our energy mix going forward. But you know what it was producing at 8:10 in the morning (on Christmas Eve) when we hit our peak? Zero. Nothing. We couldn’t count on it.”

Kissam has been a staunch advocate for additional power generation in the Palmetto State in the face of rising consumer demand and multiple large-scale industrial projects coming online.

“You can’t plug all this new economic development into an overloaded extension cord,” Kissam told the governor’s panel back in June.

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This week, Kissam zeroed in on one “economic development” project in particular that is going to suck ungodly amounts of energy from South Carolina’s grid – a massive Google data center in Dorchester County to go with the data center it currently operates in neighboring Berkeley County.

“These data centers – its interesting – we’re dealing with them right now, and I’ll be honest with you we had a municipal customer that we didn’t pursue like we normally would have twenty years ago because we were concerned about generation capacity and we’re no longer going to serve them coming up,” Kissam said. “That’s how tight we are. Now you think about an investor-owned utility not pursuing a customer that they’ve had for seventy something years? There you go.”

According to Kissam, he doesn’t want Dominion serving the data centers because it limits the company’s ability to “serve the residential and commercial growth that we have in our state.”

“It would be fine with me if we didn’t serve any of them,” Kissam said. “They’re not (creating) many jobs. You’re talking about 200 megawatts … which is about the size of half of one of our generation units that you’re devoting to something like that. They suck a lot of water out of the ground and at the same time.”

“A lot” is actually an understatement. Google’s Berkeley County data center sucked 662.1 million gallons of water out of the ground in 2022, equivalent to the amount consumed by 4,500 residential homes.

As I noted earlier this year, thanks to climate “science,” government at all levels is forcing investor-owned utilities, RTOs and other power providers to dramatically scale back conventional generation in favor of renewables – even though it is painfully clear these new energy sources are not bridging the gap in capacity fast enough.

Bottom line? Power is being taken off the grid faster than it is being added … and natural gas, the one clean energy source which has proven effective at lowering carbon emissions, continues to face withering bureaucratic resistance.

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In discussing these macro trends, Kissam urged Google to follow its own eco-radical talking points in terms of generating the requisite 200 megawatts of power.

“Go and see if you can find (200 megawatts) of renewable energy,” he said. “You go build a solar (farm) and hook directly into it.”

He also noted the disconnect between Google’s pro-renewable propaganda and the pleas of its data center developers in Dorchester County.

“The folks that are there on the ground with us they say ‘look, we don’t care if you’re burning rags – we just need power, anything you can do,'” Kissam said. “While they’re policy people are saying we want renewable power.”

In addition to the massive drain on the state’s power grid, Google is seeking tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks for its newest proposed data center – all “in return for a promise of zero jobs,” according to a scathing editorial published recently in The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.

“What good does it do us for a company to spend a lot of money on buildings that for decades won’t generate enough taxes to pay for the public services they demand if it doesn’t provide a healthy number of jobs?” the paper asked rhetorically.

What good, indeed …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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1 comment

Bill October 19, 2023 at 5:19 pm

Keller is correct. We needed that failed VC Summer SCE&G nuke plant badly. That’s why it was built in the first place. SC is running out of power, and these computer warehouses are not helping in SC at all. Ga. was correct in finishing the the Vogle nuke. SC should have done the same. Now, SC is screwed and these stupid solar/wind farms are a complete waste of money and resources. Natural gas, even coal power plants, must be seriously considered to power SC. We have no other choices after the disastrous decisions made on VC Summer Nuke site shut down. That’s just the facts, like them or not.

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