Mississippi PSC plans Oct. 6 hearing on 50-MW Strata Solar project

The Mississippi Public Service Commission will hold an expedited evidentiary hearing on Oct. 6 on Mississippi Power‘s April 22 application for approval of a contract to purchase power from a 50-MW solar project of Strata Solar LLC.

The commission, in a Sept. 24 order setting the Oct. 6 hearing date, said that the public convenience and necessity requires that an evidentiary hearing be held on less than 20 days of notice, in light of impending tax incentive deadlines and the solar developer’s scheduling requirements. 

Mississippi Power and Strata’s Hattiesburg Farm LLC had on April 22 jointly filed with the Mississippi PSC for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and approval of a power purchase agreement. Hattiesburg Farm is a special purpose entity created solely for the purpose of owning and operating the facilities proposed for certification in this proceeding. Hattiesburg Farm is a wholly owned, direct subsidiary of Strata Solar. Neither Hattiesburg Farm nor Strata Solar has previously operated in Mississippi.

Hattiesburg Farm plans a 50-MW solar generating facility located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to be owned operated, and maintained by Hattiesburg Farm. The project is being constructed in association with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) negotiated between Mississippi Power and Hattiesburg Farm. The project will generate solar power through solar panels mounted directly on the ground, via steel support structures. The estimated construction cost of the project is $85 million.

The project’s schedule, as of the April 22 application, provides for detailed engineering and procurement to begin on Oct. 1, 2015, and the project’s commercial operation is scheduled for Dec. 31, 2016. The cost of the project will be funded entirely by Hattiesburg Farm, and Hattiesburg Farm will be responsible for the costs of all facilities and transmission system upgrades that are required to interconnect the project to the Mississippi Power electric system (without reimbursements, refunds, or credits to Hattiesburg Farm). Mississippi Power projects that the project’s energy will put downward pressure on rates over the term of the PPA.

The facility will be constructed on approximately 450 acres of land to the east and southeast of the Hattiesburg-Forrest County Industrial Park, adjacent to US Highway 98.

Under the proposed agreement, the utility will take the entire output of the project as it is generated and will pay a rate per megawatt-hour of energy delivered, according to a fixed price schedule. The PPA will have a 25 year term, commencing in the fourth quarter of 2016, and will deliver energy to Mississippi Power’s customers below the company’s solar-weighted avoided cost of energy over the term of the PPA. 

A project contact is: Blair Schooff, Senior Vice President, Development and Utility Relations, Strata Solar LLC, 50101 Governors Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, Phone: 919.960.6015 Ext. 155, bschooff@stratasolar.com.

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.