South Carolina school leads the way in solar energy

EDGEFIELD COUNTY, SC (WFXG) - One South Carolina school is leading the way to a greener energy future.

W. E. Parker Elementary in Edgefield is one of very few schools in the country with a solar farm on campus.

The solar farm is made up of 1600 panels which generate 735,000 kilowatts of energy a year. The project was completed in 2016 at a cost of $890,000. About 30-percent of that was paid for through a state energy grant. The district expects to pay back the other 70-percent with a low interest loan in about 5 years from money generated by selling the energy produced to SCE&G.

The district has a 10-year contract with the utility. SCE&G pays the district 22 cents a kilowatt, meaning the solar farm brings in about $162,000 dollars a year.

"At the end of that 10 years then we have the option as the district to either maybe pursue another contract with our provider and/or we can switch the power to run all of the demand at W. E. Parker Elementary," explained James Courtney, director of facilities, operations, and transportation for the Edgefield County School District.

For now, Courtney hopes this can be a great teaching tool for students.

"As they get older and they realize what energy costs are and how those savings can benefit and provide more things to them in the classroom, then I think they will have a better understanding," added Courtney.

If the district decides to use solar energy to power the school, it would likely be the first public school in South Carolina to be completely carbon neutral.

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