Duke Energy partners with Pine Gate Renewables on shared solar program for Dillon County residents
NICHOLS, S.C. -- Duke Energy and Pine Gate Renewables held a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday in Nichols on a shared solar farm that will serve low-income residents in Dillon County. The Shared Solar Program launched in July.
PGR is a developer, owner and operator of utility scale solar farms based in Charlotte. Nichols is one of 12 facilities in the state.
PGR Chief Construction Officer Chris Dunbar said they spend months and sometimes years to find the perfect site. It took five months to build in Nichols.
“We are happy with the results and hope you are as well,” he said.
The ceremony included renaming the site from Freedom Solar to the Whitney M. Slater Shared Solar Facility.
Slater was a Darlington nursing student attending N.C. State University when she died from breast cancer at the age of 21. After receiving her diagnosis, she made it her mission to raise awareness about environmental health and breast cancer.
Whitney’s mother, Loretta Slater and Rev. Leo Woodberry of the Florence-based New Alpha Community Development Corporation were in attendance and shared remarks during the event.
“Words can’t explain how awesome and terrific this is,” Loretta Slater said. “I know she is smiling because that was her mission to help other people like herself.”
The Slater Foundation established in 2012 helps make it possible for youth to receive scholarships.
Rev. Woodberry said he thought it was great to show the growing awareness of how the environment impacts health.
“It also shows a willingness on the part of many partners in the state to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy and to do that in a collaborative way in which everyone is involved and has a voice,” he said.
Duke Energy’s Shared Solar Program provides residents with the option to enroll in solar energy and is part of a larger effort to continue renewable energy growth in the state. The program will allow customers who don’t own their residence or unable to put a solar facility on their property to be involved with renewable energy.
Loretta Slater and Rev. Leo Woodberry played key roles in making sure the solar farm would benefit low-income customers, including securing Duke’s agreement to waive the solar farm connection fee for 400 families. They also secured Duke’s agreement to provide free energy efficiency upgrades to 1,500 area households.
State President for Duke Engery in South Carolina Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe called it a great program.
“We estimate that residential customers will earn back their initial payment credits from the solar array in three years,” he said. “Customers are not only saving on their electric bill, they are directly supporting a renewable energy future in South Carolina for generations to come.”
The 7.12-megawatt (DC) farm with more than 20,000 solar panels supplies the energy to the program’s subscribers and generates enough energy to power 1,167 homes annually.
“We are excited for the opportunity to provide clean, solar energy for Duke Energy’s Shared Solar Program, to be present in the Dillon County community and to form meaningful relationships with the landowners on this farm,” Pine Gate’s Landowner Relations and Community Development Manager Brittany Staszak said.