Southern Power to Expand Solar Development in Georgia

Southern Power projects

Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power today announced plans to develop a 131-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) solar project in Georgia, which will be capable of generating enough electricity to help meet the energy needs of more than 21,000 homes. The electricity and associated renewable energy credits (RECs) will be sold to three Georgia electric membership corporations.

“Southern Company is committed to developing renewables as a component of the full portfolio of energy resources,” said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. “Our strategic solar expansion helps build our system’s diverse fuel mix and solar generation capacity to prepare for America’s energy future.”

Southern Power has selected First Solar to be the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the facility. Construction of the plant is scheduled to begin in September 2015, and the project is expected to achieve commercial operation in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The solar facility, which will be constructed on a 911-acre site in Taylor County, is expected to consist of approximately 1.6 million thin-film PV solar modules mounted on single-axis tracking tables manufactured by First Solar.

The electricity and associated RECs generated by the facility will be sold under 25-year purchase power agreements with Cobb Electric Membership Corporation (Cobb EMC), Flint Electric Membership Corporation (doing business as Flint Energies) and Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation (Sawnee EMC). Cobb EMC has contracted for approximately 101 MW, and Flint Energies and Sawnee EMC have each contracted for approximately 15 MW.

Cobb EMC, a not-for-profit electric cooperative, is one of the largest of Georgia’s 41 EMCs and delivers electricity to more than 175,000 residential and commercial members. Serving more than 86,400 electric meters, Flint Energies is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by its members in parts of 17 central Georgia counties. Sawnee EMC serves more than 162,000 accounts in seven counties in greater north Georgia.

Southern Power has previously acquired seven solar facilities with Turner Renewable Energy, as well as one facility with First Solar.

The facility fits Southern Power’s business strategy of growing its wholesale business in targeted markets through acquiring generating assets and building new units, the output of which is significantly covered by long-term contracts.

Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is a leading U.S. wholesale energy provider, meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. With this project, Southern Power and its subsidiaries will own and operate 19 facilities in eight states, with more than 9,000 MW of generating capacity operating in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia,Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.