DARLINGTON -- Southern Current, a leading developer in the residential, commercial and utility-scale solar markets, will invest $340 million in Darlington County to expand its solar farm portfolio with 17 new individual solar projects in the county.

The company is an owner and developer of utility-scale solar energy facilities across the southeastern United States.

The South Carolina Department of Commerce announced the new solar projects in Darlington County in a news release issued Monday.

With an in-house team of development professionals, the company manages projects from site selection and origination through construction and operation.

Darlington County officials revealed in April that the company was planning to spend as much as $354 million on solar projects in the county when the Darlington County Council approved an ordinance to establish fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements with Southern Current.

Darlington County Economic Development Director Frank Willis said that while Monday’s announcement was not unexpected, it still sends a powerful message about Darlington County as a place for industry to do business.

“We’re excited,” Willis told The Hartsville Messenger. “If I’m not mistaken, I think it’s the biggest solar investment in the state. But it’s the volume that’s significant – $340 million is a lot of money.”

Willis said the 17 facilities, which he said will be spread out over the county, will go far toward generating new tax revenue for the county.

“This will certainly be a boost to the economy of Darlington County,” he said. “It’s a real win for Darlington County for funding for local government.”

Willis said the new facilities will play a significant role in attracting new industry to Darlington County.

“One key component to recruiting industry is when they look at an area, they want to know what the cost of power is,” he said. “What this says, with 17 sites and $340 million, that’s a lot of access to energy in Darlington County, and it’s all over the county. It’s not just in one part of the county.”

Southern Current is proud to make Darlington County home to many of its projects, Southern Current chief development officer Paul Fleury said.

“We’re excited to roll out these major clean energy infrastructure investments over the next three to five years, which will produce substantial tax revenues to the county for decades to come,” he said. “This wouldn’t be possible without the strong support of the county, partnerships with the economic development team and all of our vendors that help to make this possible.”

Darlington County Council Chairman Bobby Hudson welcomed the announcement.

“Southern Current’s substantial investment in solar power in Darlington County is consistent with our commitment to environmentally clean growth,” Hudson said. “We are confident this will be a mutually beneficial partnership for the company and our community.”

NESA Executive Committee Chairman Sen. Luke Rankin, Esq., said his organization is always excited to see a company like Southern Current invest in the region.

“The announcement of this renewable energy project in Darlington County stands as a testament to the business-friendly environment and environmental stewardship of the county and the region,” Rankin said. “Southern Current's continued investment in our region shows that we are a great place to do business."

 Top state officials also chimed in on the announcement.

“This tremendous, new $340 million investment in one of our rural counties is further proof of the business-friendly environment we’ve worked hard to build here in South Carolina,” Gov. Henry McMaster said. “The future is bright for Southern Current and their solar projects throughout the state.”

S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt said “team South Carolina” works hard every day to cultivate a pro-business environment for companies of all types in the state, “and this new, high-tech solar project in one of our rural counties is further evidence that our team-first approach is paying off. Congratulations to Southern Current on this new project.”