South Carolina is experiencing a wave of solar energy interests statewide, with Pickens County being the latest to venture into the energy sustainability market. Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative plans to develop a 250,000-kilowatt community solar farm over the next year in tandem with additional co-ops, the School District of Pickens County and others.
The market is growing exponentially as solar energy becomes more affordable and easier to collect through improved battery technology and efficiency of solar panel production. Currently, electricity customers in South Carolina pay about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour to power their homes through fossil fuels or nuclear reactors where other areas of the country, well established with solar resources, pay only 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Concerned about placing solar panels on your home?
Mike Couik, president and CEO of Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, said the community farms planned by Blue Ridge and the other co-ops would allow members to subscribe to solar-generated electricity without placing panels on their properties.
“It means they don’t have to install panels on their roof, nor do they have to worry about their construction and maintenance,” Couik said.
Have existing solar panels on your property?
Blue Ridge and other co-op members who have existing solar panels are able to sell electricity they generate back to Blue Ridge and deducted the surplus from their monthly bills.
Within sustainability practices and less expensive benefits of solar energy, lies an additional perk in the form of education. The cooperative plans to work with Tri-County Technical College to develop a curriculum using the solar site as a laboratory located behind the district’s Career and Technology Center and Chastain Elementary School. Construction will be scheduled during the school year, allowing students to watch its progress.