UNION COUNTY — The economic future of Union County is getting a lot brighter and greener thanks to the development of a $12 million solar farm in the county by Pacolet Milliken Enterprises.
Since June, Union County Council has been in the process of approving incentives for an industrial development project known only by the code name “Project Paris.“
The incentives being approved by council during that time included an ordinance authorizing the county to enter into a fee-in-lieu-of taxes agreement with Project Paris and an ordinance authorizing the inclusion of the project in a multi-county industrial park agreement between Union and Spartanburg counties. Inclusion in a multi-county industrial park enables the industry or company covered in the agreement to pay a user fee instead of ad valorem taxes and enables the counties involved to share in the expenses of and the revenues generated by the park.
Even as council was going through the ordinance approval process, the identity of Project Paris remained a secret until this past Tuesday when, in special session, council approved third and final readings of those ordinances.
In presenting council with those ordinances Tuesday, Supervisor Frank Hart announced that Project Paris is Midway Green Solar, LLC, which will be located adjacent to the Midway Green Industrial Park.
Present at Tuesday’s council meeting was Bryan Stone, Chief Operating Officer for Lockhart Power, who said that Midway Green Solar, LLC, is a project Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, the parent company of Lockhart Power. Stone said that the facility will use solar energy to generate renewable, environmentally-friendly electricity. He said that the facility, which is scheduled to be completed and in operation by the second quarter of 2019, will not only generate energy, it will also benefit Union County in other ways including economic development.
“This will be the first solar project of its size in the county and it will be located on environmentally impaired land that would not support any other productive use such as manufacturing,” Stone said. “The county will receive property tax revenues and does not have to provide any infrastructure.
“It will be very close to the Midway Green Industrial Park and will make a significant contribution to the efforts to recruit some good, solid world class manufacturing companies to Union County,” he said. “These companies are very interested in renewable and sustainable energy and they are companies that are interested in being involved in and investing in the community.”
While Pacolet Milliken Enterprises will invest $12 million in Midway Green Solar, LLC, Stone said the facility itself is still being designed and so its exact size is still be determined, but that it will be sitting on a 60-acre site. When asked about the number of jobs that will be created by the project, Stone said the actual workforce at the facility will be relatively small given the nature of solar power generation. However, Stone that there will be a number of construction jobs created during the building of the facility.
As for who will receive the energy generated by the facility, Stone said it was still being determined where the energy will go, but that it will not initially be purchased by Lockhart Power.
(Lockhart Power currently generates 99 percent of its energy from renewable sources including hydroelectric power generated by three dams including Lockhart Dam and methane gas recovered from the Wellford Landfill.)
In announcing the identity of Project Paris, Hart praised Lockhart Power as “a great partner” in the development of Midway Green Industrial Park and the Midway Green Spec Building as well as other economic development efforts in the county. Hart said that with it using the site for the generation of renewable energy, Midway Green Solar, LLC is the “highest and best use for the property.”
Tuesday’s announcement was welcomed by Union County Development Board Executive Director Kathy Jo Lancaster who said that Midway Green Solar, LLC “is truly an innovative advancement for Union County. This project will represent numerous economic and community development opportunities for our community. Not only will the project create a renewable energy resource, it will also expand our local tax base and increase Union County’s business competitiveness.”
Lancaster said that the project is the result of the efforts of Stone and Hart who she said have worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition.
“We are extremely appreciative and applaud the work of Lockhart Power’s COO, Bryan Stone, and Union County Supervisor Frank Hart, in making this project a reality for Union County,” Lancaster said.
Tuesday’s announcement is the latest development surrounding the Midway Green Industrial Park, a 142-acre South Carolina Department of Commerce Certified Industrial Park owned by Pacolet Milliken Enterprises. The park is home to the Midway Green Spec Building which is currently under construction and expected to be completed by September. When completed, the spec building will be 100,000 square feet in size and is designed so as to be easily expanded to 200,000 square feet to accommodate the future growth of the company that acquires it. The spec building sits on a 24-acre site within the industrial park, meaning there is more acreage available to accommodate even more growth.
Utilities to the site are provided by Lockhart Power (electricity), the City of Union Utility Department (natural gas, water, and sewer), AT&T and Charter Communications (Telecomunications).
The spec building is being developed through a public-private partnership between Union County and Lockhart Power who are sharing equally the cost of its development. Ground was broken on the spec building in April and during the groundbreaking ceremony officials said it was hoped the building would be sold before completion to a “world class company” that would use it for a manufacturing facility that would bring with it much investment in Union County and create many good, high-paying jobs for county residents. It was also announced that the sale price of the spec building would be $3.9 million.
About Lockhart Power Company
Lockhart Power Company is an investor-owned public utility serving Upstate of South Carolina since 1912, with 99 percent of its power generated from renewable sources. Lockhart Power provides reliable and cost-effective electric service to its retail and wholesale customers, while also providing renewable energy to Duke Energy Carolinas.
To purchase the Midway Green Industrial Spec Building and/or for more information contact Andrena Powell-Baker, Senior Manager for Community Relations and Development for Lockhart Power, at 864-545-2211 or 864-545-2560 or 864-466-7139 or at [email protected]
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.