Southern Energy Management Installs 60 Solar Water Heaters in 60 Days in South Carolina.

Seventy homes across South Carolina have been chosen to participate in a unique program that will bring solar energy to more families in the Palmetto State.

The project by Central Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. (CEPCI) will monitor the effectiveness of residential solar thermal water heating using a grant from the South Carolina Energy Office. Southern Energy Management (SEM) was awarded a contract in September to install 60 of the systems out of its Greenville office. SEM partnered with VELUX, a leading global manufacturer of solar water heaters with its U.S. headquarters in Greenwood, to complete all 60 residential systems in 60 days.

“I was very thrilled when I found out we had been selected,” Clover resident Ken Newell said. “In a tough economy, especially for people in the architecture and construction industry like I am, anything that can save money is a real godsend. I’m going to be very interested to see my power bill.”

Solar water heating can provide about 75 percent of a typical family's hot water needs, and can eliminate the equivalent of 19,000 lbs of carbon emissions that would be created from heating that water through nonrenewable power sources. More than 25 of the systems will be monitored for a year to track how much solar hot water is produced and how much electricity is saved as a result. The data will give CEPCI valuable information about potential savings for customers on a larger scale.

"We're looking forward to reviewing the data from the monitoring systems to see if solar power can play an even bigger role in meeting the expanding energy needs of our customers in the future,” said Scott Hammond, Project Administrator Energy Programs for CEPCI.

The systems are being installed in homes served by four South Carolina cooperatives: York Electric Cooperative Inc., Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, Santee Electric Cooperative Inc. and Berkeley Electric Cooperative. Installation of the VELUX solar water heating systems began in late September and ended in November.

“Given that the average household spends 20-25% of their home energy costs on heating water, these systems will have a tangible positive impact on families. It’s a win-win situation when you can help people save money on their energy bills, and spread the word about solar water heating at the same time,” said Paul Johnson, Southeast District Sales Manager for VELUX. “We’re proud that this project is taking place in our home state of South Carolina.”
SEM is well known as a leading solar integrator, having installed hundreds of residential and commercial-scale solar systems across the Southeast over the past decade. The company also has a team of building science experts who help builders, homeowners and businesses address energy efficiency, comfort and health issues.

"This is really an exciting project, and an important one for South Carolina," said SEM co-founder Bob Kingery. "Over the past decade, we’ve been part of many milestone solar projects in North Carolina and other states, and it’s always rewarding to see how pilot programs can lead to real change in the perception and adoption of renewable technologies. We're optimistic that the success of this project will give South Carolina the momentum it needs to propel solar into the mainstream."

Charleston, Florence, Georgetown and Rock Hill are just some of the cities where homeowners will benefit from the free solar systems.

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