Darlington County planning sets rules for renewable energy devel - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Darlington County planning sets rules for renewable energy development

The Darlington County Planning Commission is proposing an ordinance to county council after hearing interest from solar brokers and landowners about developing a greener Darlington County. (Source: Amy Lipman). The Darlington County Planning Commission is proposing an ordinance to county council after hearing interest from solar brokers and landowners about developing a greener Darlington County. (Source: Amy Lipman).

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Darlington County Planning Commission is proposing an ordinance to county council after hearing interest from solar brokers and landowners about developing a greener Darlington County.

The Renewable Energy Systems ordinance lays the groundwork for renewable energy projects. The planning commission approved the final version of it this week after working on it for months. "We certainly see this as the future," said Doug Reimold, Darlington County director of planning.

Planning commission staff looked toward North Carolina for guidance in coming up with the ordinance because North Carolina has a strong solar energy industry.

The ordinance includes requirements and application processes for commercial solar farms that sell energy to power companies as well as individuals looking to put up solar panels for their own properties. It also covers guidelines for wind energy.

The planning commission wanted to make sure there were requirements in place for voltage limitations, fencing, landscaping and even the type of materials that can be used on the solar panels.

"When there are no regulations, then it can be done fairly haphazardly," Reimold said. " They'll just be basically looking for their own advantages," Reimold added.

The requirements would also help farmers and landowners looking to make some money off their land. "I definitely think that with the volatility of the markets today, low commodity prices, I think solar farming may definitely be an opportunity for some people to have that security," said Ty Woodard, of Woodard Farms.

Woodard said he won't be signing up his land right away though. "I think the best plan right now would just be to wait to find out some more details, maybe get some competition in the area," he said.

The planning commission hopes to bring the ordinance to Darlington County Council May 4. It will need three readings to be passed.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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