By Stan Welch
At a recent meeting, The Anderson County Council gave approval to an economic incentive package to a company known as Project Avocado, which will establish five to seven separate solar farm sites in the northern end of the county.
The sites will comprise a total of 128 acres of solar power generation capacity, and will potentially provide 13.4 megawatts of power; enough power to power approximately twenty three hundred homes. By comparison, the Duke Power facility at the Lee Steam Plant site generates eight hundred megawatts. The projects mentioned here are intended to produce electricity to sell to existing utilities.
Four of the properties are located in County Council District 6, while one is in District Seven. The tracts of land currently generate a paltry $260.52 in tax income. Once the solar equipment is installed, the tax revenue from that equipment, as well as from the land itself, will total $77,306.
Since that meeting, the county and the S.C. Department of Commerce have released the name of the company that will construct and operate the various sites. Southern Current LLC, a leading developer in the residential, commercial and utility-scale solar markets, is expanding its solar farm portfolio with five new facilities throughout Anderson County. The company is investing $30 million in these projects.
Southern Current is an owner and developer of utility-scale solar energy facilities across the southeastern United States. With an in-house team of development professionals, the company manages projects from site selection and origination through construction and operation. A spokesperson for the company said that they have one hundred thirty nine projects in the state currently, and anticipate a total investment in South Carolina of two billion dollars over the next three to five years.
Paul Fleury, chief development officer for Southern Current, said that the company is one of the largest solar power enterprises in the Southeast, with facilities all across the region. He cited confidentiality agreements in declining to discuss specifics about the proposed sites, but said that construction is expected to start soon and that groundbreaking ceremonies and other developments will be forthcoming in the next weeks and months.
Details about potential customers or purchase of the power generated by the solar farms also remain unknown at this time, but at least one potential purchaser is in the same neighborhood.
Earlier this year, the Duke Power facility at the Lee Steam Plant reopened after converting to natural gas. During tour of the facility, Duke spokesperson Ryan Mosier stated that the Lee Plant is a key element in supporting Duke’s gradual but consistent transition to cleaner and more sustainable sources. “Nuclear energy is till our mainstay, but solar and other renewable sources are becoming more and more viable each day. Of course we continue to monitor technological and industrial advances in those fields, but we have to be prepared to serve our customers when those sources aren’t adequate For example, while solar is a great source of energy, during the peak morning hours when millions of people in the Carolinas are taking showers and making breakfast, solar isn’t working yet because the sun is just coming up. We have to be able to meet that demand from other sources, until solar can come on line and begin to ease that burden.”
For more information on Southern Current, visit www.southerncurrentllc.com.