South Carolina officials celebrate state’s largest solar farm, growth of industry

Companies behind solar farm announce initiatives to support education in Orangeburg County

Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette, State Senator John Matthews Jr., State Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter and Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright Sr., joined executives from Cubico Sustainable Investments and Cypress Creek Renewables today to celebrate the ‘powering up’ of South Carolina’s largest solar farm, Palmetto Plains, and the solar industry’s growth in Orangeburg County and throughout the state. 

As a part of the celebration today, Cypress Creek announced that it will be giving $10,000 to Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College to support its students from Bowman. Cubico also unveiled plans for an initiative to support students from underprivileged backgrounds with the cost of their college education. 

South Carolina now boasts enough installed solar to power more than 100,000 homes annually, and Orangeburg is home to the most installed solar power in the state. The Energy Freedom Act (EFA), signed into law in May 2019, is intended to continue that growth trajectory by opening market access to independent power producers, benefitting rate payers with low cost renewable power. The EFA, which came in response to consumer demand for solar power across South Carolina and received bipartisan support, is currently being implemented by the state’s public service commission. 

Cypress Creek was the developer and engineering, procurement and construction provider for the 106 MW Palmetto Plains project. Cypress Creek is also the developer and construction provider for the Huntley solar facility in Orangeburg County, which is expected to become operational in spring 2020, and will perform the long-term operations and maintenance services for both projects. Cubico Sustainable Investments owns both Palmetto Plains and Huntley, as well as two other utility scale solar projects in North Carolina and Texas. 

Fast Facts about Solar in South Carolina

  • South Carolina contains 930 MW of solar capacity in operation, enough power for approximately 100,000 homes.

  • Three solar facilities are operational in Orangeburg County totaling 170 MWdc: Springfield, Peony, and now Palmetto.

  •  Two large-scale solar farms are under construction in Orangeburg: Bowman and Huntley. These two projects total approximately 200 MWdc.

  • More than 2,900 South Carolinians are employed by the solar industry.

Cypress Creek CEO Sarah Slusser joins Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College President Walt Tobin to power up Palmetto Plains. Slusser announced a $10,000 in scholarships to be awarded to students from the Bowman area.  

What people are saying 

Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette said, “We have gone to great lengths in South Carolina to create a competitive business environment that encourages companies to invest here and helps them thrive once they get here. We’re thrilled that this multi-million-dollar investment by Palmetto Plains will produce energy to power our homes and businesses with low-cost, environmentally-friendly power. Governor McMaster and I want to thank Cubico Sustainable Investments and Cypress Creek for once again choosing to do business in our great state.” 

State Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter said, “With the Palmetto Plains solar farm now producing power and with Huntley solar farm under construction, we are proud to declare Orangeburg as the solar capitol of South Carolina. We see solar energy as a win-win for our residents who will benefit from jobs, new local tax revenue, and emissions-free power.” *

Johnnie Wright, Sr., Chairman, Orangeburg County Council, said, “Orangeburg County is committed to supporting low-cost, clean energy alternatives. We are grateful for the investment from Cubico and Cypress Creek Renewables as well as for your vision in making Orangeburg County home to the largest Solar Farm in South Carolina. It is indeed another great day in South Carolina’s Global Logistics Triangle (I-26*US-301*I-95) in the Town of Bowman.” 

Oliver Alexander, Cubico’s Head of USA, said, “We are very pleased to be contributing to the growth of renewables in South Carolina and the USA through projects like Palmetto Plains, which became our first investment in the country at the start of the year. We have since acquired three more utility scale solar projects, bringing our USA portfolio to nearly 500 MW, and look forward to increasing our presence in the country further as we move towards a clean energy future.” 

Sarah Slusser, CEO of Cypress Creek Renewables, said, “On behalf of the Cypress Creek team, I’m excited to be here in Bowman today to celebrate Palmetto Plains solar and the growth of solar in Orangeburg County and across South Carolina. So many people were involved in the success of this substantial project, and I hope you can feel pride today that, because of you, South Carolinians will benefit for decades to come from the low-cost, clean power produced by this project.” *    

*Palmetto Plains and Huntley are creating power for the South Carolina grid, but are retaining the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and environmental benefits.

Cypress Creek developed, constructed and will provide the ongoing Operations and Maintenance for Palmetto Plains. Members of the team gathered to celebrate.