DARLINGTON, S.C. – The Darlington County Council gave final approval Monday to three ordinances in support of industrial development projects that together could bring more than $224 million in new capital investment to the county.
Nucor Corp., previously identified by county officials only by the code name “Project Heat Wave,” plans to invest at least $75 million over five years to expand its manufacturing operations in the county. Nucor last week marked the 50th anniversary of its steel mill operation in Darlington.
The investment will include the acquisition of land, a building and primarily acquisitions of equipment and machinery, according to the ordinance approved by the council.
The ordinance states the acquisitions and improvements are estimated to cost at least $75 million over five years. No new jobs are associated with the project, according to supporting information from the county. But officials say the project is critical to the company’s continuing presence in Darlington County.
The measure provides for a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes (FILOT) agreement between the county and the Nucor.
The fee agreement between the county and the company will provide for a fee to be paid by Nucor to the county in lieu of property taxes at an annual assessment rate of 6 percent for a term of 30 years as well as the issuance of a special source revenue credit equal to $25,000 per year for the company for the first 10 years.
The ordinance says the project and the fee in lieu of taxes will benefit the county in several ways, including providing services, employment, economic development, recreation or other public benefits as well as an additional $8.5 million in new revenue from the fee to the county over the 30-year term of the agreement.
Two ordinances that also received final approval Monday relate to plans by a Charleston-based solar energy company to build six new solar farm facilities in the county representing a projected total capital investment of as much as $149 million.
That is in addition to the $340 million that Southern Current said last year it plans to invest in Darlington County to expand its solar farm portfolio with 17 new facilities in the county.
That project also involves a FILOT agreement between the county and the company for a 30-year term.
Southern Current is a leading developer in the residential, commercial and utility-scale solar markets in the Southeast.
Darlington County officials still have not publicly identified Southern Current as the company behind the additional six proposed facilities. The ordinances and related documents refer to the “companies” only as “Project Dates 2.”
One of the new ordinances states that a minimum of $141,958,215 will be invested in the six projects by the end of 2024. But if all six projects move forward, related information puts the total anticipated investment at $149,429,700.
The proposed FILOT agreement establishes fees of $421,392 a year to be paid to the county for the first 10 years of the agreement and $368,494 a year for years 11 through 30. Those amounts will be prorated to each of the six different projects.
Solar companies are increasingly looking at South Carolina for expansion of solar projects, and officials say conversion of agricultural property to solar property can produce significant increases in revenue for counties. The six pieces of property the company plans to lease, referred to as “companies” in the ordinance, are currently taxed at agricultural rates, generating little revenue for the county, officials say.
The solar facilities are not expected to create many new jobs, other than temporary construction jobs, but they are expected to play a significant role in attracting new industry to the county, officials say.
Darlington County Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Frank Willis said earlier this year that Southern Current’s 2018 announcement of the 17 solar facilities sends a powerful message about Darlington County as a place for industry to do business.
He also said the investment will be the largest single investment in solar energy facilities in any county in South Carolina.