MONCKS CORNER, S.C. — Santee Cooper has awarded a contract to Liberty Sun Energy to build and operate the state's largest solar farm, a 3-megawatt project near Walterboro in Colleton County that will provide renewable energy and vital data about the costs and integration of utility-scale solar power in South Carolina.
Construction is expected to begin Oct. 14, with project completion anticipated by the end of 2013. Santee Cooper will purchase the farm's solar power in collaboration with Central Electric Power Cooperative and the state's electric cooperatives.
Liberty Sun Energy, an affiliate of North Charleston-based The InterTech Group, is dedicated to developing solar power projects in South Carolina. The InterTech Group and its affiliates have installed solar generation at its corporate headquarters in North Charleston and are currently installing solar panels on the roof of the Carolina Ice Palace in North Charleston.
"We aim to demonstrate the economic viability of solar energy to the utilities and hope this project is the first of many in our state. Our South Carolina-based team, which includes partners Alder Energy Systems and Gregory Electric Company Inc., has developed a world class project that will demonstrate the many benefits of renewable energy. We applaud Santee Cooper and the electrical cooperatives for their leadership and vision in renewable energy development. We are also grateful for the enthusiastic support and assistance we received from Walterboro and Colleton County," said Grant Reeves, senior vice president of The InterTech Group.
"We have a lot to learn about integrating solar power into our existing generation fleet, from a cost standpoint and from a reliability standpoint, because sunshine is an intermittent resource," said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and CEO. "Liberty Sun brought us a solid proposal that will yield data we will use in shaping our generation portfolio going forward."
"This project is a real-world, full-scale learning tool," said Ron Calcaterra, president and CEO of Central Electric Power Cooperative. "The question co-ops want to answer is how we can design a consumer-friendly product that makes solar power available to our members in a reliable, affordable and economically sustainable way. We expect to gain a tremendous amount of insight from this installation."
The project raises the bar on an already 12-year renewable power history for Santee Cooper and the electric cooperatives. The utilities began generating and distributing Green Power in 2001, and since then have steadily increased renewable generation in South Carolina, using South Carolina resources.
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Liberty Sun Energy I, LLC was formed to develop solar energy projects in South Carolina by The InterTech Group, Inc. of North Charleston, S.C. which was South Carolina Solar Council Corporation of the Year in 2013. The InterTech Group, Inc. is a diversified global company with wholly owned operations and investments in multiple industry sectors, including aerospace, specialty chemicals, sports and entertainment, finance, real estate and public capital markets.
Central Electric Power Cooperative, Columbia, S.C., provides planning and wholesale power aggregation services and wholesale transmission delivery services to 20 electric distribution cooperatives in South Carolina through power purchase agreements with Santee Cooper, Duke Energy Carolinas, the Southeastern Power Administration and South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. Electric cooperatives operate the largest distribution system in the state. www.cepci.org
The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. is the state association of independent, member-owned electric cooperatives. More than 1.3 million South Carolinians in all 46 counties use power provided by electric cooperatives. Together, the co-ops operate the state's largest electric power system with more than 70,000 miles of power lines across 70 percent of the state. More information is available at www.ecsc.org.