Santee Cooper and Coastal Carolina University dedicate state's first solar Green Power site
Earlier this year, the two organizations partnered on this renewable project, making it the first solar photovoltaic (PV) project at a public university in South Carolina. Solar panels producing 16 kilowatts sit atop four new multi-purpose pavilions on East Chanticleer Drive in Conway, a major CCU campus thoroughfare.
"Today is a historic day for South Carolina. There are many firsts: the state's first solar Green Power site; the first solar PV project at a public university in the state; and the first project funded by Green Power participants," said Lonnie Carter, president and chief executive officer for Santee Cooper. "Our company's mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of South Carolina. One of the chief ways we do that is by protecting our environment, and today's solar dedication delivers on our promise of finding innovative ways of enhancing our environment while adding value to the state."
"This facility demonstrates how we can creatively manage our energy resources in a learning laboratory," said Ronald R. Ingle, president of Coastal Carolina University. "Our continuing partnership with Santee Cooper reinforces the infinite possibilities for educational ventures that make sense for Coastal Carolina University, the community and all of South Carolina."
Coastal Carolina has been on the forefront of environmental initiatives with the establishment of the Coastal Carolina University Campus and Community Sustainability Initiative and it became one of Santee Cooper's first Green Power Partners at the Champion level in 2001. Green Power Partners purchase from 2 to 5 percent of their electricity as Green Power.
In addition to Coastal Carolina University, Burroughs and Chapin Co. Inc., the City of Myrtle Beach, Lowe's, Patricia Resorts and the Georgetown Hospital System are the five other Green Power partners at the Champion Level.
"Last year, we announced a five-year, statewide and multi-tiered plan that, for the first time in its history, would add solar, wind and small-landfill energy to our mix of renewables. Today's solar pavilion dedication begins the implementation of that strategy and more Green Power projects will be announced soon," said R.M. Singletary, senior vice president of corporate services for Santee Cooper.
The $385,000 project is capable of producing 16 kilowatts, which is enough to supply power to more than 75 computers. Construction took approximately eight months and included special metering equipment that produces real-time statistics on how much electricity is being generated at any moment. A specially-designed Web-based kiosk at the R. Cathcart Smith Science Center includes real time energy output information from this facility and additional renewable energy information.
How the solar panels work
Sunlight is absorbed by the four panels; one panel on each of the four solar pavilions. Energy from the panels flows to a combiner box and through to an inverter where it is converted from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Current is then sent to a transformer and later to the Santee Cooper grid as Green Power.
Each panel is composed of 20 photovoltaic modules. Each module measures about 30 x 60 inches and can generate 200 watts of electricity (DC).
The output is maximized at spring and fall equinox due to the tilt of the angle of the modules and is also affected by the temperature of the equipment, humidity, haze and length of day.
Green Power information
All revenue from the sale of Green Power is being reinvested in future development of renewable resources or facilities like this project. Santee Cooper is one of only a few utilities in the country that reinvests 100 percent of its Green Power revenue into additional renewable resources.
Santee Cooper and 18 electric cooperatives across South Carolina, and the City of Georgetown, offer Green Power to their customers. More than 3,800 Green Power residential, commercial and industrial customers have voluntarily purchased thousands of kilowatt-hour blocks since September 2001.
Santee Cooper's Green Power program has achieved national Green-e certification through The Center for Resource Solutions. Green-e certified utility programs are verified annually for their power content, insuring that the electricity provider selling the power has met the Green-e Program's environmental and consumer protection standards. Green-e is the nation's leading industry certification and verification program for renewable energy products. The Green-e Program certifies that Green Power meets the minimum environmental and consumer protection standards established by the non profit Center for Resource Solutions. For more information on Green-e certification requirements, call 1-888-63-GREEN, or log onto www.green-e.org.
Santee Cooper is South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility and serves more than 155,000 residential and commercial customers in Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry counties. The utility also generates the power distributed by the state's 20 electric cooperatives to more than 665,000 customers in all 46 counties. Santee Cooper is the largest provider of electricity to South Carolinians. All total, more than two million South Carolinians receive their power directly or indirectly from Santee Cooper. For more information, visit www.santeecooper.com.