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Mississippi Power Co. on Friday showed off its 52 MW solar power facility located in Lamar County to the public.
The company says the solar site—which has the capacity to power about 8,000 homes—is the largest such power plant in the state of Mississippi at 595 acres and housing more than 215,000 solar panels.
Operation began June 27, but Friday’s event involved a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a lineup of speakers praising the site, such as Mississippi Public Service Commissioners Brandon Presley and Sam Britton; Mississippi Power Chairman, President and CEO Anthony Wilson; Former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, and others.
Presley said he is excited by the recent spurt of utility-owned solar projects and the economic benefits they bring to Mississippi.
“Years ago, there was not a solar project like this anywhere in the state,” Presley said.
In the past couple of years, Tennessee Valley Authority, Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Co., among other utilities, have launched a handful of solar projects scattered in places like DeSoto, Chickasaw, Hinds and Lincoln counties, to name a few.
Entergy Mississippi called three solar installations it carried out in 2015, “the state’s first-ever utility-owned solar project.”
Now, Mississippi Power has three solar projects of its own that are scheduled to operate by the end of the year.
Besides its Sumrall facility, Mississippi Power is working on two more solar generating facilities: a 3 MW solar facility at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport that opens this month; and a 50 MW solar plant in Hattiesburg scheduled to open later this year.
The solar facilities will deliver electricity through Mississippi Power’s wholesale grid to where the demand is, and can take pressure off its most expensive power-providing units that dispatch throughout Southern Co. territory, including Georgia and Alabama, said Tony Smith, Mississippi Power’s air quality programs and renewable energy projects manager.