Distributed Energy Resources

Santee Cooper Solar Farm Becomes South Carolina’s First Gold Certified Solar Habitat

South Carolina public power utility Santee Cooper’s Jamison Solar Site, a 1.2-megawatt facility located on over five acres in Orangeburg, has become South Carolina’s first Gold Certified Solar Habitat Site. 

To become a Gold Certified Solar Habitat, Santee Cooper had to commit to planting a variety of native flowering plants underneath and around the site’s 4,482 solar panels. 

The plantings of native pollinator plants provide added ecological benefits to solar arrays. It aids in reducing soil erosion, protecting water quality and enhances the aesthetic of a solar site. 

South Carolina governor Henry McMaster signed the Solar Habitat Act into law in 2018. Under the authority of the law, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) established "Technical Guidance for the Development of Wildlife and Pollinator Habitat at Solar Farms" and worked with Clemson University’s Department of Fertilizer Regulation and Certification Services to develop the S.C. Certified Solar Habitat Program. 

The South Carolina Solar Habitat Act provides a framework to encourage owners of commercial solar energy generation sites to follow voluntary site management practices that provide native perennial vegetation beneficial to songbirds and pollinators, and reduce stormwater runoff and erosion at the solar generation site.

"We are pleased that Jamison Solar Farm is the first Gold Certified Solar Habitat in the state and even more pleased to help lead the way to more certified solar habitats across South Carolina," Santee Cooper Chief Power Supply Officer Marty Watson said. 

Watson said creating the habitat for pollinators is a way the public power utility puts its environmental stewardship into action. He also recognizes the guidance of the team at SCDNR. 

For more information about the S.C. Solar Habitat Program, visit www.dnr.sc.gov/solar.