SCE&G preps new solar energy farms in 2014 - - Columbia, South Carolina |

SCE&G preps new solar energy farms in 2014

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One hundred years ago, if you told someone we'd one day be able to harness the power of the sun into energy, they might've called it witchcraft. These days, it's just a smart and clean energy source for at least one of the state's largest utility companies.

The Columbia Museum of Art has been harnessing the sun's energy in the form of solar panels.

"We have always been interested in the sun and how we can use the sun," said museum representative Michael Roh.

"We get about 10 percent energy from this. In the summer, we average about $500, we harvest about $500."

It's not a lot, but it could be a game changer for utility companies eager to invest in the technology on a bigger scale.

"We're making sure we're ahead of the curve in getting the system ready to move away from coal," said SCE&G's Marcus Harris.

Ahead of the curve, and ready to break ground. SCE&G recently announced their plans to build several large solar energy farms in 2014.

"Once SCE&G gets our two nuclear plants up and running, the clean energy portfolio we're going to have is going to be outstanding," said power quality engineer Casey Logan. "We'll have close to 60-70 percent of the energy on out system coming from a clean energy source."

But the limitations and costs are hard to ignore.

"They likely won't see any price reduction," said Harris. "The size and scope of the farms were building aren't so large that we'll see any major rate issue one way or the other. Average residential installation right now would be in the $20,000 to $25,000 range."

"The clean aspect of it is definitely a pro," said Logan. "It's a renewable resource. There's no emissions out of it. The sun shines most days. Sometimes there are clouds in the way, so we can't harvest it all the time."

The state's largest installation covers 10 acres on top of Charleston's Boeing facility and produces enough energy to power more than 2,500 homes. They may have been the first, but they certainly won't be the last.

"The sun's here; it's going to be here for a long time," said Harris.

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