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Report: SC utilities prepared for winter storms, blackouts

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A new report by a state watchdog agency finds that South Carolina's utilities are prepared to withstand winter storms like the one that buckled Texas' power grid last year.

The final report, released Dec. 31 by the Office of Regulatory Staff and prepared by the consulting firm Guidehouse, studied 65 electric and gas utilities across the state, including investor-owned companies, customer-owned cooperatives and state-owned Santee Cooper.

The report does make some recommendations on how the state can improve its energy-related preparations for extreme winter weather events.

For example, utilities should be mandated to conduct adverse winter weather emergency drills with local and state emergency management agencies, the report's authors wrote. They also suggest the state look into how connections between the grid and other important infrastructure, like water and telecommunications systems, to address other vulnerabilities related to extreme cold weather.

Gov. Henry McMaster requested the review following a deadly storm in Texas in February 2021 that crushed the state's power grid and left millions of people without heat for days.

Unlike Texas, South Carolina has more diversified energy sources to help meet high energy demands, the report states. For example, more than half of electricity generated in Texas relies on natural gas, compared to about 30% in South Carolina.