Later this year, motorists driving down Interstate 77 near Cayce should see a small field of solar panels being installed next to SCE&G’s corporate headquarters.
The energy utility said Thursday it had a deal to build a solar farm that will help it exceed its 2020 goal of increasing its sun-power use.
SCE&G’s 1.6-megawatt solar farm, to be completed by November, isn’t large by some standards. However, its location — near the utility’s main offices along I-77 — is intended to show SCE&G’s commitment to a mix of energy sources.
Power companies increasingly are under pressure to diversify how they produce energy, rather than relying only on traditional sources, such as coal and nuclear. Alternative forms of energy include wind and solar, which proponents say are clean sources of power.
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“It will serve as a visual reminder of SCE&G’s commitment to providing clean, reliable energy to our customers through a balanced portfolio of nuclear, natural gas, coal and renewable generation, ” said Danny Kassis, vice president of customer relations and renewables.
The solar agreement between SCE&G and Charleston solar developer TIG Sun Energy IV comes when the company is being criticized for continuing its plans for a $14 billion nuclear plant project, which is billions of dollars over budget and only a third complete. SCE&G also operates coal plants but has shut down some in recent years.
Numerous sun farms have popped up across the state since a 2014 law eased restrictions on solar energy.
On Thursday, Gov. Henry McMaster announced the latest — a new 7-megawatt solar farm on S.C. 9 in Dillon County. Furman University near Greenville also has launched its own solar farm in recent months.
Financial terms of SCE&G’s solar farm project were not immediately available. The company said TIG Sun Energy will finance, own and operate the farm and has contracted with Hannah Solar Government Services to engineer, design and build the solar facility.
Grant Reeves, senior vice president of TIG Sun Energy’s parent, the Intertech Group, said SCE&G’s project “makes a statement that SCANA and SCE&G are embracing solar’’ and renewable energy.
SCANA is the parent corporation of SCE&G. “It’s a high-profile project, in SCANA’s front yard,’’ Reeves said.