Santee Cooper Empowers Proactive Compliance Strategy and Continuously Improves Environmental Performance

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Courtesy of IHS

Established during the 1930’s New Deal, Santee Cooper is South Carolina's largest power producer. This stateowned electric and water utility serves more than 2 million commercial and residential customers across 46 counties. As part of its mission – “to be the state’s leading resource for improving the quality of life for the people of South Carolina” – the company is also strongly committed to protecting the region’s natural environment. Its leadership is fully invested in assuring regulatory compliance and continuous improvement of environmental performance.

In 2011, Santee Cooper took a major step forward in delivering on that promise by launching an enterprise-wide Environmental Management Information System (EMIS). The new EMIS is now helping the company address growing external and internal pressures ranging from stricter regulations to employee retirements. As the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tightened regulations on power plants and other industrial activities, Santee Cooper has faced increasing air, water and waste requirements. An EMIS would enable its environmental managers to move away from complex manual processes towards a streamlined system based on the EPA’s “Plan, Do, Check, Act” model.

“We had a large number of paper forms, spreadsheets and databases across the company, and wanted a central database where our employees could go for consistent and accurate environmental information ,” says Brian Holmes, director of the Santee Cooper’s Environmental Management System. “Our reporting needs had increased and there were more regulations in the pipeline with final rulings coming. We needed an EMIS to manage the current requirements more efficiently and deal proactively with the next generation of environmental demands.”

Santee Cooper’s selection committee had chosen IHS Essential Suite – part of the IHS Environmental Performance Solution -- as the backbone of their new EMIS. As it came online, the company’s environmental managers gradually phased out many of the manual processes that involved more than 270 checklists and forms, 115 spreadsheets and two databases. The team standardized metrics, calculations terminology and more within their new centralized system.

“It used to take a substantial amount of time and effort – not continuously gathering information but waiting on people to provide the information you needed in a checklist or form,” says Lauren Browne, General Engineer at Santee Cooper. “Now information is available immediately. It’s really streamlined the process for us.”

The Challenge

  • Maintain compliance with expanding federal, state and local regulations and permits
  • Improve environmental performance by eliminating manual processes involving 270+ checklists/forms, 115 spreadsheets, etc.
  • Reduce risk of non-compliance due to changes in organization and/or employee retirements

The Solution

  • IHS Environmental Performance Solution with IHS Essential Suite

The Results

  • Created one unified, centralized Environmental Management Information System for 180+ users
  • Integrated EMIS with multiple complementary systems for process data collection, business intelligence modeling, and email tasking
  • Eliminated or partially replaced 43% of legacy checklists, forms and reports as redundant or unnecessary
  • Managed more than 5,000 compliance tasks over 2 years
  • Eliminated delays in retrieving environmental checklists/forms
  • Mitigated risk of non-compliance thru proactive tasking and employee transition management
  • Achieved 96% customer satisfaction rating for attention to environmental management

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