Duke Energy is looking to build its first solar power project in Anderson County.Plans for the project are in the preliminary stages, but it could act as a backup source of power for the Civic Center of Anderson, which occasionally is used as an emergency shelter.
“We are super-early in the process,” said Adam Nygaard, a Duke Energy business development manager. He emphasized that energy-storage technology is the project’s main focus.
Nygaard and other Duke Energy officials met Monday with three Anderson County Council members to discuss the project, known as the Anderson Civic Center Microgrid. The company is hoping to lease county-owned property where solar panels and storage batteries could be installed.
Councilwoman Cindy Wilson told the Duke Energy representatives at Monday’s meeting that county officials “are very much in support of your project.”
The latest site under consideration for the solar panels is near the former Techtronric Industries Power Equipment plant on Pearman Dairy Road that the county acquired in December. The storage batteries, which would be comparable to two tractor-trailers in size, could be placed on land near the Civic Center.
Duke Energy originally was eyeing several acres of property closer to the Civic Center to install 7,020 solar panels capable of creating 1,550 kilowatts of electricity, according to a report that the company presented to county officials Monday. County officials had suggested land near Anderson Regional Airport as another alternative. But both of those locations have issues that may make them unsuitable.
As part of a national grid modernization initiative, Duke Energy has received a portion of a $7.2 million federal grant for a three-year project involving the Anderson Civic Center Microgrid, according to the report that company officials discussed.
In a letter in September supporting Duke Energy’s grant application, Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns said the project “will bolster the energy resiliency” of the Civic Center, which he described as a “critical facility for supporting our community in the event of a regional emergency.”
Eight days before Burns wrote the letter, the Civic Center experienced a two-hour power outage while serving as a shelter for Hurricane Irma evacuees.Duke Energy has a stake in more than 50 solar plants across the nation, including 13 facilities in North Carolina, according to the company’s website.