CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. says it will close two coal-powered generating stations near Walterboro by the end of the year.

SCE&G will close the plants at the Canadys Station four years ahead of the previous schedule, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported. SCE&G originally had planned to covert the plants to use natural gas before retiring them in 2017.

The Cayce-based utility closed another coal-fired plant last year.

The plants are among the company's oldest and smallest coal-fired plants, ranging 45 to 57 years old.

Retiring the older coal plants will help SCE&G meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations, said Steve Byrne, president of generation and transmission and chief operating officer.

The move also helps balance the company's generating capability, Byrne said.

"By the end of 2018, we anticipate that roughly one-third of our electric generation will be fueled by nuclear power, one-third by natural gas and one-third by scrubbed coal-fired plants," he said.

The two plants near Walterboro employ nearly 70 workers. Byrne says the utility will help them find other positions with the company.

The utility also plans to covert two plants near Irmo and one near Aiken to use natural gas, before they are closed in 2018.


Information from: The Post and Courier,