Solar project brightens S.C. power picture

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G. Thomas Upshaw | President & CEO

We’ve long taken an “all of the above” position when it comes to power generation. We recognize that, as the electricity industry is now structured, there are three primary means of producing base-load power—coal, nuclear, and natural gas.

Renewables also play a part in the energy mix. The best established form of renewables— that is, energy produced using renewable resources as fuel—is hydro power. In recent decades, wind, solar and biomass have also gained prominence.

Green Power Solar School dedicated in Hardeeville

The Jasper County School District, Palmetto Electric Cooperative and Santee Cooper recently dedicated Hardeeville Ridgeland Middle School as a Green Power Solar School.

greenpowerlogo_sm2The statewide Green Power Solar Schools program was launched in 2006 at Hilton Head Middle School, also served by Palmetto Electric. The program continues efforts by the co-ops and Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility that generates most of the power co-ops distribute, to promote renewable energy.

Green Power Solar Schools encourage student interest in the environment and demonstrate the feasibility and limitations of renewable power. A 2-kilowatt solar power system has been installed at the Hardeeville school, providing hands-on learning opportunities for 6th grade students. Teachers and students can use a specially designed renewable energy curriculum that meets state science standards. A provided computer and Internet-based monitoring system allows them to see how much power their cells are generating.

The school outreach program fulfills a commitment to reinvest Green Power funds back into renewable resources across South Carolina. Show your support for renewable energy by purchasing Green Power from Palmetto Electric. Call us today for details.

Pilot project

Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric utility that generates most of the electricity distributed by independent co-ops such as Palmetto Electric, is now purchasing the output from a three megawatt solar farm in Colleton County, owned by T.I.G. Sun Energy. The project will give Santee Cooper and South Carolina’s 20 co-ops a way to analyze the reliability and cost-effectiveness of this form of energy production.

Solar and wind have inherent disadvantages. The wind doesn’t blow, nor does the sun shine, all the time. This intermittency requires that backup base-load generators—usually fueled by natural gas— be poised to operate when renewables are not performing. The best prospect for wind and solar to make a substantial contribution to electricity generation would be the development of effective storage batteries for use during peak demand hours when renewable units would typically be dormant.

Slow march

It’s likely to be a slow march until the time a suitable storage battery can be perfected. In the interim, the cooperatives and Santee Cooper will be learning all we can about solar energy and the possibilities it might hold.

One outcome we’ll take great pains to avoid: Our members won’t be expected to subsidize this or any other type of energy production. Both solar and wind must represent viable alternatives in order for Palmetto Electric to embrace them. Our hope is that advances in technology will bring this energy production to pass.

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