Southern Power to develop 131-MW solar project in Georgia

Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) subsidiary Southern Power plans to develop a 131-MW photovoltaic (PV) solar project in Georgia, with the electricity and associated renewable energy credits (RECs) to 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 Co. Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning in a Dec. 17 statement. “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, with 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 about 1.6 million thin-film PV solar modules mounted on single-axis tracking tables manufactured by First Solar.

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

This latest 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 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.

Another Southern Co. subsidiary, regulated utility Georgia Power, has also lately moved aggressively into solar development.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.