A company working to bring a solar energy farm to Ridgeland is boasting the project could be the largest of its kind in the state.
Hudson Energy Development president Bill Moore told the Ridgeland town council earlier this month that the planned 80-acre solar farm could power about 2,000 homes, which “would make it the largest solar project in South Carolina.”
Dukes Scott, director of the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, said Monday the state doesn’t keep a comprehensive list of solar energy farm sizes, but he is unaware of any existing projects larger than the one planned for Ridgeland.
Energy produced by the farm — which would be built in the Grahamville area in the southern part of Ridgeland — would be sold to S.C. Electric and Gas.
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The electricity “goes right into the local system, so all of the electricity will be used right here locally,” Moore said.
While construction of farm will bring several dozen temporary jobs to Ridgeland, only about three permanent positions will be added to local economy because these operations require little day-to-day human oversight, Moore said.
He said the firm would like to finish the roughly $20-million project by the end of the year, but before construction starts the town council must approve a slight change to land use regulations.
Current zoning allows for light industrial uses in that area, but “I don't think it would hurt to reiterate exactly (that the construction of a solar energy farm is) allowed,” town administrator Jason Taylor said.
It will be a good neighbor
Hudson Energy Development president Bill Moore
Several members of the council questioned the impact such a project could have on its neighbors in terms of noise and light pollution.
Moore assured the governing body that the operation “will be a good neighbor.”
Tree buffers will be between the site and neighboring properties, so the roughly six-foot tall panels will “be basically invisible,” he said.
Moore added that the panels “turn very slowly to track the sun,” but make almost no noise.
“If you were standing…10 feet away, you probably wouldn't be able to hear it,” he said.
A deal to allow Hudson Energy Development to pay cash in lieu of taxes over a 30-year period must also be ironed out.
Both items will be introduced before the council at a meeting Thursday and a final vote will likely happen later in March.