Santee Cooper is in the process of installing 1,300 solar panels, the largest solar power installation in South Carolina, in Myrtle Beach.
The solar panels, some atop buildings at the Myrtle Beach Service Center, Warehouse and Technical Services Office and others which will be installed on the ground, have a capacity of about 311 kilowatts in optimal conditions. The Grand Strand Solar Station should generate enough electricity for about 30 typical homes a year and will increase the amount of solar power generated in the state by 50 percent, according to Santee Cooper.
All of the power generated will go into the electrical grid and will be generally available to all customers, said Mollie Gore, a spokeswoman for Santee Cooper.
"It's a good opportunity for us to demonstrate on a fairly large scale the opportunities and some of the limitations of solar energy," she said.
One of the key concerns with solar power is the cost, Gore said.
A $475,000 grant from the South Carolina Energy Office and about $500,000 from Santee Cooper's Green Power revenues made the project possible, she said. Santee Cooper general funds were used for the rest of the costs. Santee Cooper's Green Power program lets customers buy renewable energy at an added cost on their monthly bill and all of the money goes directly into green energy generation, like the solar project, or demonstration projects.
Santee Cooper chose Myrtle Beach for simple reasons - the space was large enough and the north-south facing buildings provided a good spot for the solar panels.