With rising electric rates, Town of Saluda officials knew action was needed to take control of their future power bills. They conducted an energy audit to determine the best options to offset energy usage in the Town Hall. The town then applied for and received a ConserFund Loan from the Office of Regulatory Staff - Energy Office (Energy Office) to update lighting to LED in the Town Hall and install a 26 kilowatt rooftop solar array.
The Energy Office offers the ConserFund Loan Program to fund energy efficiency improvements. Organizations may finance one or multiple projects and may cover up to 100% of eligible project costs, up to a maximum loan amount of $500,000 per fiscal year.
“The bills just keep getting higher and higher and it was important that we explore and see that we had this alternative for our people.”
Town of Saluda
To further reduce electricity consumption, occupancy sensors were installed in infrequently used rooms. These sensors monitor whether people are in the room. If the infrared sensor finds that the room is empty, the lights turn off. This feature is especially important in spaces such as meeting rooms or break rooms, where people may forget to turn the light off after leaving.
The Town of Saluda was one of the first municipalities in South Carolina to install solar panels. The town was able to take advantage of SCE&G’s Bill Credit incentive. For each kWh of solar energy that is put onto the grid, the town receives $0.22. The town has a 10-year contract to sell power back to SCE&G, even though the solar portion of the project will pay for itself in 3.5 years. The success of the project will be monitored to determine whether to install additional solar panels at other town facilities.
The ConserFund Loan covered the installation of new LED exit signs, wall packs (high-intensity light fixtures typically installed in outdoor locations and flush-mounted on a vertical wall surface), and interior lighting. The loan also supplied funds to replace lighting fixtures in the fire station and sanitation facilities.
Several businesses in Saluda are watching the town’s solar success to see if they, too, should install solar panels. Town officials are also working with nearby schools to teach students about the benefits of renewable energy.
For more information about funding opportunities available through the Energy Office, visit ENERGY.SC.GOV/Incentives.