HATTIESBURG, MS. - Mississippi Power and Silicon Ranch opened a 50 MW solar facility Friday. Its been 18 months since officials first announced the project.
Officials say they are excited to flip the switch and provide renewable energy to the MS power grid.
MS Power Air Quality Manger Tony Smith says, "A couple of years ago we identified a need to diversify our portfolio and we realized that solar was becoming competitive so we developed a dialogue with this developer Silicon Ranch.”
The facility can produce enough energy to approximately 6,500 homes. It features 200,000 panels and is located on 650 acres in South Hattiesburg.
MS Power Chairman, President, and CEO Anthony Wilson says, “It is important for utilities to have a very diversified fuel portfolio and I think solar is certainly a component for that as we go forward.” Silicon Ranch is one of the nation's largest independent solar power producers and will own and operate the facility.
Matt Kisber, President and CEO of Silicon Ranch says, "The emissions that will be for solved by doing it from solar comes to the equivalent to about 8 million gallons of gasoline."
He adds, "So it is a much cleaner form of energy generation and it also takes advantage of one of the greatest resources we have...the sun."
Since the project, local officials wanted the solar farm to provide economic growth in Hattiesburg. The Forrest County Board of Supervisors and Area Development Partnership (ADP) says it will provide a competitive advantage with business recruitment.
“Companies want to locate to places with green energy on the grid. It is part of their sustainability plans and part of their social responsibility" says ADP President Chad Newell.
Board President David Hogan says, “A lot of companies have initiatives with green energy and want to reduce their carbon foot print, so we offer that now here in the Pine Belt.”
Mississippi Power is the state's largest partner in providing renewable energy with nearly 160 MW of approved solar generation.
In August Mississippi Public Service Commission unanimously approved a 52.5 MW solar facility in Lauderdale county between MS Power and Silicon Ranch.