Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, has announced plans to develop a 131MW photovoltaic solar project in Georgia, capable of generating enough electricity to help meet the energy needs of more than 21,000 homes. The Georgia Public Service Commission has also approved the Department of the Navy (DON) and Georgia Power (also a subsidiary of Souther Company) to proceed with the development of a potential 30MW AC or 40MW DC renewable energy project at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Ga.
"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 its 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.
The electricity and associated RECs generated by the facility will be sold under 25-year purchase power agreements with Cobb Electric Membership Corporation (EMC), Flint Energies EMC and Sawnee EMC. Cobb EMC has contracted for approximately 101MW, and Flint Energies EMC and Sawnee EMC have each contracted for approximately 15MW.
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 DON has been actively working with Georgia Power to develop a cost-effective, renewable energy project to meet the secretary of the Navy's goal to produce or procure 1GW by the end of 2015.
"Georgia Power and the Department of the Navy's Renewable Energy Program Office (REPO) signed a memorandum of understanding back in August, working diligently toward today's crucial project milestone," said Robert M. Griffin, executive director of REPO. "Energy is a vital resource for our bases, which provide critical support to our missions abroad. Adding renewable energy to the local grid provides power diversification for all consumers, including Kings Bay."
The potential project at NSB Kings Bay would allow for the construction of a new renewable energy generation asset on-base for consumption by the surrounding community and Georgia Power. NSB Kings Bay is located in the southeastern corner of Georgia and has been operating in its current capacity since 1975. It plays a critical role as the East-Coast home to the Ohio-class submarines. Georgia Power has long served as the base's provider of electricity.
Georgia Power, which serves more than 2.4 million customers across the state of Georgia, is committed to developing economical renewable energy as part of a balanced generation portfolio. By 2016, the company projects it will have contracted for more than 900MW of solar capacity resulting in the largest voluntary renewable portfolio of an investor-owned utility. A successful solar project at NSB Kings Bay would be a milestone for both Georgia Power and the DON, helping to further both parties' commitment to adding renewable energy for Georgia.
The DON is aggressively pursuing renewable energy to improve energy security, operational capability, strategic flexibility and resource availability. To date, there are up to 255MW of renewable energy capacity in procurement from solicitations from the Western Area Power Authority for 14 installations in California and a solicitation from DLA-Energy for three installations in Texas.