Sweetwater Solar, LLC is a proposed 34MWac / 50 MWdc solar farm located in Greenwood County, SC. The project sits on approximately 341 acres in the south of the intersection of the County Farm Road and Siloam Church Road. Fairforest Drive runs for the east side of the site.
Solar energy provides many benefits to the community including:
- Increased local tax revenue for Greenwood County
- Improved energy security and supply
- Reduces our dependence on fossil fuels
- Zero emissions energy
- Creation of economic opportunities
Following Greenwood County regulations, the Zoning requirements include setbacks for:
- 100’ from property lines, where abutting residential parcels
- 50’ from public right of ways
- 100’ setbacks can be reduced to 50’ if there is vegetative buffer screening that consists of the following placed within 10’ of the property line.
Solar energy plays an important role in maintaining security of electricity supply and combating climate change for current and future generations.
Our approach to producing solar energy is to employ the same sustainable principles as other stewards and farmers of the land before us. Only in our case we look to harness the light of the sun to create clean energy alongside food. We will do this with locally produced, low cost and clean power generation.
This is an aerial view of the site:
This is the site plan map:
Who we are
Sweetwater Solar is being co-developed by Renewable Energy Services (RES) & Pine Gate Renewables (PGR).
RES is a family-owned and operated development company headquartered in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Founded in 2013, RES works primarily in the Southeast and has significant experience developing projects in Duke Energy’s service territory. RES is leading the development of this project in close coordination with Pine Gate Renewables, who will ultimately own and operate the project. See more in r-e-services.com.
Pine Gate Renewables is an experienced, full-service development company located in Asheville, North Carolina. With 370 operational projects across 14 states, PGR has experience developing, constructing, owning and operating solar farms. Known for their attention to detail, in 2019 Pine Gate was awarded the Gold Safety Award by the NC Department of Labor. See more in pinegaterenewables.com.
Together, RES & Pine Gate make up a knowledgeable and fully integrated development team focused on delivering quality projects and we look forward to putting together a safe, secluded and successful project in your community!
We have a strong focus on developing quality solar assets in harmony with our stakeholders; the community we develop in, our investors, the electric utilities and the local authorities. Everything we do is managed in-house, ranging from:
- Full solar farm project rights, from early stage development partnerships through to construction and full operation
- Local, regional and national permitting & approvals
- Complete utility grid applications & interconnection agreements
- Solar Farm Construction
The proposed Zoning Timeline is:
- 8/6/20: Public Info Meeting 1
- 8/20/20: Public Info Meeting 2
- 8/25/20: Planning Board Meeting
- 9/1/20: Board of Commissioners Hearing
- 9/15/20: Board of Commissioners Hearing 2. This meeting is the public hearing
- 10/6/20: Board of Commissioners Hearing 3
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When are you going to build it?
Once city plans are approved, the construction and build-out process usually takes about 25 weeks, with expected solar generation to begin shortly thereafter. We’re hoping to begin work in the second half of 2021.
2. How much extra traffic will the solar farm generate?
During construction (which is anticipated to take around 9 months) we anticipate approximately 3 semi’s per day on average.
Once constructed the solar farm will require minimal attention. We anticipate one pick-up truck per week on average.
3. How much noise does a solar farm make?
During construction, some construction noise is inevitable. We will limit noisy construction activity to normal working hours.
Once constructed the solar farm will emit virtually no noise. The equipment on site typically emits a maximum noise level below 50 decibel at 10 yards (the same as a typical conversation)
4. What are the setbacks for your solar installation?
The setbacks measured from the security fence are:
- 100’ from public right-of-ways
- 50′ from property lines
5. Can I see it from my house?
With the equipment installed away from existing property lines and public access points, you shouldn’t be able to see the solar farm unless you go out looking for it.
6. Do I get cheaper energy because of the solar farm?
Yes. Solar Energy is so attractive because the raw material (the light from the sun) is free. This helps make solar energy one of the lowest cost energy sources. The energy that this solar farm will produce is sold directly to the electrical utility to add to their total energy mix before they add their costs and sell it on to you.
7. Why build one here?
It is in a sunny location and the electricity grid has the capacity to distribute the power generated. Solar farms are being built around the United States as part of the drive to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Our teams are experts in assessing the best land for solar farm use. First and foremost, it has to be a sunny location near the electricity grid to distribute the power we generate.
8. Have you done this before?
Yes, we have been developing solar farms since 2013 and currently operate in 14 states.
9. Are solar panels safe?
The solar farm in general is also safe with various fuses and switches to protect the farm, the electricity network and the environment from any short circuits or sparks.
10. What about biodiversity?
11. How long will it take to construct the project, from beginning to end?
We estimate the project will take 9 months to construct.
12. How big will these panels be?
One panel is approximately 6’6 x 3’3 (2m x 1m).
13. Are they going to do a drainage study outside of the wetlands?
Yes, we do engineering studies on stormwater and the effects of construction on drainage patterns. NC Department of Environmental Quality reviews the studies and confirms their findings before issuing permits. The ground cover on solar farms is still pervious with approximately 98% of the site covered in native grasses. Most municipalities have a threshold for traditional development of 12-24% impervious surface before studies are required.
14. Does your construction cause pollution to the ground and water table?
No, the equipment that is installed in a solar farm is rigorously tested, and after 40 years will only introduce trace residue of zinc and steel, much less than the National Standard. In any case, the land will be safe for that entire period, vastly improving biodiversity and reducing pollution from those sources.
15. Will there be a visual barrier in place on the project?
Yes, there will be landscaping and fencing that will obscure the solar farm from public view. The landscaping is currently being designed in accordance with County regulations.
16. How long will the project be active?
We expect the project to be active for 35 to 40 years.
17. What happens at the end of the period?
After the life span of a solar farm, it will be decommissioned. We will safely remove the modules and all project materials, and restore the site to its previous condition.
For more information, see the Fact Sheet “Decommissioning” below.
This is a collection of 11 information sheets, where we have used scientific reports, journals and facts. For further reading we recommend the Science and Facts section at the end of each publication.
If you require any further information, feel free to contact us.
Thomas Delafield is our Project Manager and you can find him at: