Laurens Electric Cooperative Debuts First Solar Community Project in South Carolina

In August of 2016, Laurens Electric Cooperative (LEC) launched South Carolina’s first solar community project. Sometimes referred to as a solar community farm, a solar community project is a community-owned set of solar panels that can be shared by numerous households.

According to Energy Sage, community solar projects allow families to “share the benefits of solar power even if they cannot or prefer not to install solar panels on their property.” By giving its customers the opportunity to make use of renewable energy without making drastic changes to their homes or property, LEC has created a simple way for Laurens County residents to embrace the benefits of solar power.

According to Jim Donahoo, the marketing director for the LEC, “With this option there is no liability for the member, no HOA rules to worry about, and the subscriptions are transferable.” The LEC announced its plans to construct the 100-kilowatt solar community farm in April of 2016, and within a month, members had subscribed to use all 100 kilowatts.

In order to subscribe to this service, members selected the number of kilowatts they wished to use and paid a portion of the cost of their subscription as a down payment of $50 per kilowatt hour. The rest of the cost is $12 per month for each kilowatt hour; however, since one kilowatt of solar power will cover roughly 12.5 percent of a home’s energy expenses, the subscription pays for itself in a short time. Donahoo reports that feedback from LEC members has been overwhelmingly positive.

To celebrate the debut of such an important project, LEC hosted en event at its co-op headquarters in Mauldin, SC. Speakers included State Senator Ross Turner and State Representative and House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister.

The LEC has plans to begin a second phase of its Community Solar Project, and a waiting list to subscribe has already begun. This part of the project should be ready to launch in 2017.

David Wassen, CEO of Laurens Electric Cooperative, says, “As part of our long-term strategy here at Laurens Electric, we know renewable energy—especially solar—is important. One of our goals is to give our members greater access to solar energy. We feel this program helps us accomplish that goal, and gives us the opportunity to engage more deeply with our members.”

If you are interested in learning more about this project or would like to join the wait list, please visit or call 1-800-942-3141.


 Banner photo courtesy of Muriel Gouffray; all others courtesy of Laurens Electric Cooperative.

Angela Rogers is a teacher, bibliophile, and freelance writer who is a lifelong resident of the Upstate.