All it took was a simple flip of a switch for South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson to turn on MTU America’s new solar panel array Wednesday morning.
MTU America collaborated with Sol America, SCE&G, South Carolina Department of Transportation, Key Equipment Finance and Aiken County to create the 7 acres of 4,242 solar panels. The power ties in to the SCE&G grid and MTU America receives 14 cents per kilowatt it supplies.
“The energizing of our one megawatt solar field sets another milestone on our incredible journey here in Aiken County,” said Joerg Klisch, MTU America’s director of operations.
The solar panels will have an enormous impact on the environment and help with electricity usage.
“Not only will MTU America cover 14 percent of electrical usage, but we will reduce our carbon footprint in the first year of production by more than 3 million pounds,” Klisch said.
He said that weight is equal to approximately 1,500 elephants.
The panels are warranted for 25 years but can last longer. Executive Vice President George Mori from Sol America said there are solar panels from the 1970s that are still working.
The possibility of additional panels throughout the rest of the state is probable but not necessarily certain.
“It’s hard to predict where things will go,” said Dan Kassis, SCE&G’s vice president of customer relations and renewables. “We have been very successful in this program as well as other programs. I think the future really is bright for renewables and what it can do for the state in terms of being a part of the total energy portfolio.”
McMaster commended the partners on their work and what it will mean for the future of South Carolina.
“It’s a great thing for the people of Aiken County as well as for all of South Carolina to see this kind of product,” McMaster said. “We’ve had great leadership in this county that has taken us higher and higher, and I believe we are on the cusp of great, great things.”