Community members pack public hearing over proposed York County solar panel manufacturing facility

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — Community members packed a room in York County for a public hearing related to a proposed solar panel manufacturing facility.

Canadian-based Silfab Solar is promising 800 new jobs and advanced manufacturing. Hundreds of neighbors are concerned about possible hazardous chemicals so close to schools.

Silfab said it will work to minimize emissions, but residents say they don’t trust their methods or the state regulations in placed.

“How is it acceptable to have 2000 children, just 1300 feet away from this manufacturing plant? From an air quality standpoint what is the appropriate buffer requirement,” Denise Bach said..

In August, Silfab’s Director of Human Resources, Renee Terreri, said much of the concern around the plant’s environmental impact comes down to misinformation.

“We welcome you to call us and ask us any questions,” she said. “We welcome the opportunity to clarify any data out there that isn’t true.”

She said the truth is in the plant’s economic impact. In addition to 800 jobs starting at an hourly wage of $19 and $60,000 for salaried employees, Silfab will add millions to the tax base, even with the 4 percent tax reduction the council approved.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said it will weigh and respond to comments over the next few weeks as it considers an air quality permit.

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Michelle Alfini

Michelle Alfini, wsoctv.com

Michelle is a climate reporter for Channel 9.