Solar projects mean $200M investment, jobs for Clarendon

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Clarendon County just got two shots of solar energy.

Clean-energy development company Adger Solar announced Tuesday its intention to invest $200 million in two separate solar farm projects in the county. It is one of the largest economic announcements in county history.

"Adger Solar has been developing these projects for nearly two years, and we're very excited to have the strong support of Clarendon County as we move into the next phase of development," said Adger Solar Principal Bill Moore. "These low-profile solar PV projects will complement the county's strong agricultural base, and will become important contributors of jobs, tax revenue and clean power to the local community."

Active in the southeastern United States since early 2014, Adger Solar is a clean-energy development company focused on creating lower-cost, utility-scale solar-electric generating facilities, with developments underway in six different counties.

"Adger Solar is a joint venture with one of the nation's oldest private energy investors, which has participated in the financing and development of more than 10,000 megawatts of wind and solar projects now in operation around the country," said Moore.

While the company's projected $200 million investment will initially create five jobs internally, Clarendon County Development Board Executive Director George Kosinski said the new industry's plans will create numerous construction jobs.

"What's really exciting, aside from the investment, is the construction jobs," said Kosinski. "You're looking at 250-300 construction jobs. This project is going to take years. The first one will be operational in 2018, but you'll have these construction jobs around for two to three years."

Gov. Nikki Haley said the company's investment in Clarendon "is a real reason to celebrate, because it shows that South Carolina is a place where companies in every industry can thrive."

"This $200 million investment shows that Adger Solar is serious about its commitment to our state and our people, and we look forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come," Haley said.

Clarendon County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart said he and council members welcome the company with open arms. Council will hold a public hearing and possible third and final reading on an ordinance that will approve a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes for the company's two projects - nicknamed Project Gordon I and Project Gordon II - at its regular December meeting.

Such agreements allow a company to pay a base fee in place of property taxes, which could vary year after year, serving as a hindrance for companies to relocate, Stewart said.

"We have always known Clarendon County to be a great place to live, work and play," said Stewart. "Today's announcement cements our place in the solar energy world and builds toward the county's goal of green energy and sustainability. We welcome Adger Solar with open arms and look forward to many years of success."

The projects are the fourth and fifth fee-in-lieu of taxes agreements the county has sought with industries since Kosinski took the helm of the Development Board in early 2015. Thus far, the county has approved similar agreements with industries under the code names Project StarTrak and Project Jacket. Both have yet to be formally named or announced. The first FILOT under Kosinski's leadership led Advanta to announce a $2.7 million expansion into the county that will create 26 jobs ultimately.

"This is the perfect fit for Clarendon County," said Kosinski about Adger Solar. "Everything that will come with this will help our local restaurants and the local economy. It's a win-win for the community."

With the first 72 megawatt solar firm expected to be online by the end of 2018, Adger Solar estimates it could generate enough electricity to supply about 25,000 homes on an annual average basis.

"This investment by Adger Solar will further strengthen South Carolina's growing reputation in the area of renewable energy," said Secretary of State Bobby Hitt. "Providing both environmental and economic impacts, I'm proud to welcome Adger Solar to Clarendon County and look forward to growing this terrific partnership."

Adger's announcement is one of the largest in Clarendon history, tied with the $200 million investment from Grant Forest Products Inc. in Alcolu. That facility and operation is now owned by Georgia Pacific, which created hundreds of jobs at the location after Grant declared bankruptcy in 2008.

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