April 18, 2011 officials with Santee Cooper and the South Carolina Energy Office dedicated the Grand Strand Solar Station, officially launching the state’s largest solar power installation and the newest facility in Santee Cooper’s Green Power generating fleet.
The Grand Strand Solar Station has a rated capacity of 311 kilowatts generated by 1,325 solar panels. The panels are mounted on rooftops and an adjacent field at Santee Cooper’s warehouse facilities in Myrtle Beach. When it went online, the station significantly increased Santee Cooper’s solar generation and represents a 35 percent increase in total solar capacity for South Carolina.
The .3-million project is unique because of its size, and also because of its funding. Solar power is more expensive than traditional generation, and Santee Cooper secured a 5,000 grant administered by the South Carolina Energy Office to pay part of the cost; the grant was funded through the U.S. Department of Energy as part of 2009’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Santee Cooper Green Power revenues, provided by customers who voluntarily purchase Santee Cooper Green Power, provided another 0,000, with the balance coming from the utility’s capital budget.
The Grand Strand Solar Station was installed by Sunstore Solar Energy Solutions and includes a pull-off area and signage to accommodate visitors who want to learn more about solar power. The solar panels are designed to withstand winds of 130 miles per hour and one-inch hail at 52 mph. The Grand Strand Solar Station will avoid more than 14.8 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the panels.
Santee Cooper also currently operates three large Green Power Solar demonstration projects in operation across the state.