Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley announced April 7 the groundbreaking of the first-ever utility-scale solar project in the state’s history.
In December 2014, the Public Service Commission made the groundbreaking move of approving Entergy’s (NYSE: ETR) plan to start construction on three separate solar projects. The three projects located in Senatobia, Brookhaven and Jackson are estimated to provide enough energy for 175 single family homes.
“I want to do everything I can to allow Mississippians to have as many energy options as possible. This groundbreaking is the first big step in the direction to make solar energy a reality in the state of Mississippi. By projects like this we are using Mississippi products, made by Mississippians to produce electricity,” said Presley
The Jackson location should be fully functioning by August. The other two projects located in Senatobia and Brookhaven are expected to be operating by the end of 2015.
Entergy Mississippi said April 7 that this program involves 1,500 kW in total. The first of three pilot solar installations, each providing 500 kW, will be a ground-mounted solar array system located in Jackson at the Hinds Generating Facility.
“This pilot project is just one of the innovative ways we’re preparing for the future under our ‘Bright Future’ plan, which took effect earlier this year,” said Haley Fisackerly, Entergy Mississippi president and CEO. “These projects will answer a lot of questions for us, and will give our customers access to renewable energy.”
The approximately $4.5-million project is a collaborative effort with Stion Corp., which manufactures solar panels in Hattiesburg, Miss. Panels and materials are slated for delivery to the Hinds site in mid April, with construction set to begin later in the month. The Hinds site will feature a single axis tracking system which will track the sun throughout the day.
Entergy, in partnership with Stion, will construct the two other 500-kW systems, both fixed tilt, in Lincoln and DeSoto counties. Spreading the sites across the state will help Entergy understand locational differences, capacity factor, different weather patterns and irradiance at different locations.
The “Bright Future” plan is a blueprint for Mississippi’s electric service needs through 2025. The plan, approved by the Mississippi PSC, is designed to improve reliability, modernize the grid, maintain an adequate workforce, stabilize rates, use new technologies and attract new industry.
Entergy Mississippi provides electricity to approximately 442,000 customers in 45 counties.