Three Lowcountry organizations receive grants for renewable energy projects

Charleston Regional Business Journal
March 9, 2010

Three area organizations will be receiving more than a half-million dollars in federal stimulus money for renewable energy projects as part of $2.8 million awarded to nine nonprofit organizations and government entities in South Carolina.

St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center on Johns Island will be installing solar water heaters in several buildings through a renewable energy grant awarded by the S.C. Energy Office.

Berkeley Electric Cooperative will be installing solar water heating systems in homes through a grant awarded to Central Electric Power Cooperative Inc. And Santee Cooper will receive $475,000 to install solar panels on the roof of its buildings in Myrtle Beach, creating the “Grand Strand Solar Station.”

St. Christopher was awarded $111,500 to install 17 solar hot water systems on 15 housing structures and in its conference center. The new solar systems will be incorporated into student orientations, coursework and conference planning tours. Educational displays throughout the camp will explain their purpose and use.

The center estimates the solar water heaters will help the center save more than $363,000 over the life of the project.

Four electric cooperatives will share a $500,000 grant to install 70 solar water heating systems in the homes of members of York Electric Cooperative, Berkeley Electric Cooperative, Santee Electric Cooperative and Pee Dee Electric Cooperative.

“As both St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center and members of the cooperatives receive new solar water heating systems, they will be working to replace fossil fuel from outside of the state with renewable energy produced in South Carolina,” said John Clark, director of the energy office.

Other S.C. projects funded through the program:
* 500,000 to Renewable Water Resources to install generators that create electricity from methane gas released from the breakdown of waste from the wastewater treatment process.
* $500,000 to Claflin University to install the state’s first solar adsorption cooling system on its campus, which uses solar power to create hot water and then cool water to provide a portion of its heating and cooling needs at the new Bio-Energy Park and Research Campus.
* $340,000 to Furman University to install solar panels on the roof of the Physical Activities Center which will provide electricity to the campus.
* $240,000 to Plug In Carolina to install 28 electric vehicle charging stations in Union, Rock Hill and Myrtle Beach.
* $100,906 to the Columbia Museum of Art to install solar panels on the roof of its building and to create a monitoring system through which patrons will be able to view the amount of power created.
* $49,594 to York County Natural Gas Authority to convert seven Ford F-150 light-duty trucks to utilize compressed natural gas.

The nine grants are expected save a total of $7.7 million in energy costs over the life of the projects. Applicants are contributing a total of $3.6 million in cost-share for the projects, or a match of $1.31 for every $1 invested by the grant.

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