Georgia Power approved for 46-MW solar project at Marine Corps base

The Georgia Power unit of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) announced July 21 a new, on-base 46-MW (ac) solar facility planned at the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Albany.

The project was approved July 21 by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) and will be the fifth large-scale solar project to be developed by Georgia Power in coordination with the military. The company is currently working under a memorandum of understanding with the Department of the Navy (DON) to finalize project details.  

With the approval of the new MCLB Albany project, Georgia Power said it expects to have more than 160 MW of on-base solar online by the end of 2016. Other major projects in progress with the military include: the Georgia 3×30 portfolio with the U.S. Army, which covers three 30-MW solar projects under construction at Fort Benning, Fort Gordon and Fort Stewart; and a 30-MW solar facility with the DON at SUBASE Kings Bay near St. Marys, Georgia.

The MCLB Albany solar facility is expected to be built and placed in service by the end of 2016. As with the company’s other four military projects, the facility will be brought online at or below Georgia Power’s avoided cost.

Working with the Georgia Public Service Commission, Georgia Powe said it is adding renewable energy as part of a diverse generation portfolio and fueling the state’s momentum as one of the fastest growing solar markets in the nation. Through its various solar programs, the company is adding thousands of solar panels to Georgia’s energy landscape.

“With the closing of Plant Mitchell, this project gives us the opportunity to provide jobs and economic development with a clean renewable energy source while at the same time contribute to national energy security,” said state PSC member Doug Everett in a July 21 statement. He was referring to a coal-fired plant of Georgia Power. “We hope these projects at our Georgia military bases will also offset any future plans for base closures.”

“This project is a credit to the Commission and our work with our partners, Georgia Power and the military. It will give us the opportunity to make a great investment for the people of Georgia,” said Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald. “One thing that is important to note, is that this project is part of the Defense Department’s cybersecurity program to protect our military bases should their outside power sources be interrupted.”

The Marine Corps project stems from the commission’s 2014 decision to re-allocate 46 MW of capacity from the abandoned Plant Mitchell coal-to-biomass project to other military self-build projects. The company requested approval from the commission to use the remaining capacity for this purpose. The commission approved the three U.S. Army projects in October 2014 and the U.S. Navy project in May 2015.

“The Commission is proud to be able to play a role in improving national security, increasing energy independence, and supporting our Georgia bases,” added Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton.

“Georgia is an early enactor with the Department of Defense to make these important projects happen,” said Commissioner Stan Wise. “The opportunity to build these projects has been accomplished through a collaborative process between the Department of Defense, Georgia Power, and the Commission.”

“Georgia has done solar differently than California, Arizona and other states,” said Commissioner Tim Echols. “We’re doing projects like these on military bases as well as large utility scale arrays in South Georgia – without a subsidy and without a renewable portfolio standard.”

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.