SCE&G’s new roof helps assemble passenger jets At the only location in the world capable of assembling commercial aircraft with all-green power, SCE&G installed the largest solar roof in the Southeast on top of Boeing’s North Charleston plant. On Friday, December 2, the power switch was flipped on during a dedication ceremony. The 18,000 thin-film photovoltaic solar laminates cover 10 acres on the roof of the 14- acre building, creating a 2.6 megawatt system, enough to power about 250 homes. Progress Energy’s new roofs will power automobiles Progress Energy and the City of Raleigh have begun a two-year research-and-development partnership to evaluate future solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations. Progress is working on five goals in its investigation: (1) testing the ability to charge plug-in vehicles using electricity generated by the sun and stored in an on-site battery; (2) analyzing the effect on the electric grid from a solar-powered charging station; (3) evaluating electric vehicle battery performance; (4) comparing the side-by-side performance of two solar panel manufacturers; and (5) monitoring the influences of weather on solar power production. Merger mess Duke Energy and Progress Energy claim to remain committed to their $26 billion merger, but the two companies concede the deal won’t be done until March. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected the proposed merger plan on Wednesday, December 14, even though Duke and Progress had allowed for mitigation of the anti-competition impact. Apparently, FERC didn’t think the mitigation went far enough. Possible solutions in response to FERC’s ruling include selling some of the power plants the new expanded Duke would own. Also, Duke could join a regional transmission organization. Both solutions directly address the challenge to help municipal power systems maintain their low electric power costs since they will no longer be able to play Progress against Duke when shopping for electric power prices. Meanwhile, SCANA and Southern get the go-ahead On Thursday, December 22, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted final design certification to Westinghouse Electric Co. (part of Japanese giant Toshiba) for the AP1000 nuclear reactor. The combined construction and operating licenses (COLs) should be at SCANA and at Southern by early 2012. Southern is actually a little ahead of SCANA in its progress to begin construction on two new AP1000 reactors near Augusta, Ga., while SCANA has plans for two of the same near Jenkinsville, S.C. Each plant should have its first new reactor operating in 2016. SCANA is responsible for 55 percent of the cost of the two reactors, which total roughly $9.8 billion, and state-owned Santee Cooper is responsible for the other 45 percent. Southern has three utility partners on the two new reactors near Augusta: Oglethorpe Power Corp., Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, and Dalton Utilities. South Carolina State Election Commission hears from USDOJ On December 23, the commission released its understanding passed along from the U.S. Department of Justice: The U. S. Department of Justice today blocked implementation of the new law that would require South Carolina voters to present a photo ID in order to vote. Therefore, ID requirements for voting will not change at this time. Current law requires voters to present one of three items to vote at the polling place: (1) Driver’s License, (2) S. C. Identification Card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, and (3) S. C. Voter Registration Card. Jobs The best job opportunities in the state of South Carolina are clustered in the state’s cities. Unemployment rates in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston are at least two percentage points below the state average of 9.9%. Greenville’s jobless rate is 7.7%; Charleston’s is 7.8%; and Columbia’s, 7.9%. Rural counties have the highest unemployment rates. Marion County tops the state with an unemployment rate of 17.3%. Lexington County has the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 7%. Unemployment in North Carolina for November was 10%. Jasper port deepening slowed The proposed new port on the Jasper County side of the Savannah River has seen its prospects dim in the past week. The S.C. State Ports Authority voted 7-2 just before Christmas not to spend more money to develop the harbor at Jasper County until the state can work out key points with Georgia. The two states were set to act as equal partners in the $5 billion port development. The Georgia Port Authority responded to the negative vote from S.C. by saying the board of the GPA is committed to the project.