On June 30, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bill McCall will retire after 41 years of service, a tenure marked by a tenfold increase in generating capacity that transformed Santee Cooper from a relatively small electric system into the state’s largest power producer.
McCall’s legacy is Santee Cooper’s modern generating fleet, its expansive transmission and distribution network and two wholesale water systems, all of which have reliably and affordably served customers and been a catalyst for economic development. He is a distinguished career that began at Jefferies Generating Station.
After earning a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of South Carolina and working briefly at Lockheed Martin, McCall joined Santee Cooper in August 1971. At that time, Santee Cooper had 698 megawatts of generating capability.
Today, Santee Cooper can generate approximately 5,900 MWs. Its transmission network has grown from 2,250 miles in 1071 to 4,990 miles today. And the direct-customer base has grown from 30,029 (residential and commercial) to 164,000.
“Bill’s impact on Santee Cooper, our customers and our state cannot easily be measured or summed up,” noted President and CEO Lonnie Carter. “He has had a great career here, and we are all so much the better for it.”
McCall is probably best known for building power plants. His first big project was the 285-MW Unit 2 at Winyah Generating Station, which came online in 1977 – one year after he was named vice president of Engineering and Construction. The project came in on time and on budget, a hallmark of McCall’s management style. Unit 3 was completed in 1980 and Unit 4, the following year.
1980s: Cross Station and Hugo
Santee Cooper lore claims that McCall sketched out a DHEC application for Winyah on a napkin. Building Cross Generating Station’s first unit would be an entirely different ballgame.
“Cross was our first station that required an Environmental Impact Statement, and Cross was our biggest expenditure to date,” he said. Unit 2, the first unit built at Cross, came online in 1983 and brought with it a new responsibility for McCall: vice president of Generation.
One of his highlights in Generation was creating the Generation Goals Program. “I’m proud of that, and especially on improving availability, efficiency and safety at the stations. We cut the number of accidents by 75 percent.”
Like other employees at the time, McCall will always remember Hurricane Hugo, which struck in September 1989 and left Santee Cooper unable to generate power for the first time in its 47 – year history. “We lost our ability to communicate with the stations and initially, we had to do it by car,” McCall said.
McCall and others drew up a recovery plan and had power restored system-wide in less than two weeks, or about half the time initially projected. “Our folks were so dedicated,” said McCall. “They put Santee Cooper and the customer ahead of themselves.”
The 1990s and 2000s
McCall became vice president of Horry-Georgetown Division in 1993. He returned to Moncks Corner in 1994 as executive vice president of Operations, and spent the next 14 years supervising construction of Rainey Generating Station and Cross units 3 and 4. He was named chief operating officer in 1998.
Since 2008, McCall has worked with S.C. Electric & Gas CO. to secure licenses to build two new nuclear units at V.C. Summer, positioning Santee Cooper at the forefront of the nation’s return to new nuclear power construction after three decades of inactivity.
McCall has also been heavily involved in community organizations. Most recently, he completed a four-year stint as past chairman of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance. He’s also served in numerous civic clubs.
“Santee Cooper is important and I’ve given them a big part of my life,” he said. “I’ll always be thankful for the opportunities I’ve had, working with some the greatest people in the world. It’s great to have been part of that. I also consider it a privilege to have raised my family in our community, schools and churches. I’m blessed to have had a wife who was so dedicated to our call here over the past 41 years.”