Slum and Blight to Solar
The call from town residents who lived near a mobile home park was clear: “Something had to be done.” Dilapidated structures within the park and regular criminal activity nearby were drawing outcry from residents. So in 2016, the Town of Hampton decided to purchase the property with general fund dollars, which began the town’s process of abatement of 13 mobile homes and two other buildings that were on the site.
During this process, town officials discussed several options using the land. After months of deliberation and consideration of several projects, Hampton officials formed a public-private partnership with a solar energy project developer, SCE&G and Lowcountry Regional Water Systems. The town leases the property to a solar farm which sells the power to the nearby wastewater treatment plant that serves the residents of the Town of Hampton.
Town council rezoned the property and navigated the transition from a nuisance property to a field of gleaming solar panels by taking a comprehensive approach to code enforcement and community development.
But clearing a blighted area and replacing it with clean, sustainable energy technology wasn’t the only benefit to the Town of Hampton and its residents. Over the next 10 years, the town will receive $270,000 through the lease of the property to the solar developers. That’s enough emission-free electricity to power 147 homes for an entire year. The solar farm will also participate in the Solar Energy Non-Residential Bill Credit program with South Carolina Electric & Gas, which provides energy or bill credits.
Hampton’s outlook continues to shine. Town officials plan to monitor funds that the project generates and decide whether to install additional solar panels on the property. Doing so would supply enough electricity to power to Hampton’s town hall, police department and fire department. The potential savings from shifting to solar power is estimated at $18,000 per year.
Contact Robert Poston at email@example.com or 803.943.2951.