COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Two environmental groups are urging Duke Energy to develop a solar farm in Anderson County.

The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy have asked regulators to order Duke to produce up to 375 megawatts of solar energy capability, The State newspaper reported.

Duke already plans a natural gas plant in Anderson County.

Duke's response with the Public Service Commission says it would need more than 2,600 acres for a solar farm to generate as much electricity as the groups propose. Duke also says the solar farm would not produce as much electricity as the natural gas plant on a 20-acre site.

The Solar Energy Association says the largest solar plant in the United States is in Arizona and produces just under 300 megawatts of electricity.

Duke spokesman Ryan Mosier said the utility does want to increase its use of solar power in South Carolina.

"From a solar perspective our company is looking at a number of options, sites and projects in South Carolina as we speak," Mosier said. "There is nothing definite on that but we are definitely looking at expanding the solar footprint in South Carolina."

Utilities in South Carolina have been reluctant to make a big push in solar energy.

The state's first solar farm was completed this month. The state-owned utility Santee Cooper built the farm that can generate 3 megawatts of energy.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. plans to build up to five solar farms, expected to generate about 20 megawatts of electricity.


Information from: The State,