Southern Co. unit to expand solar development in Georgia

Southern Co. unit Southern Power today announced plans to develop a 131 MW photovoltaic solar power project in Georgia, which will be capable of generating enough electricity to help meet the energy needs of more than 21,000 homes. The electricity and associated renewable energy credits will be sold to three Georgia electric membership corporations.

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, and the project is expected to achieve commercial operation in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The solar power facility, which will be constructed on a 911-acre site in Taylor County, is expected to consist of nearly 1.6 million thin-film photovoltaic solar modules mounted on single-axis tracking tables manufactured by First Solar.

The electricity and associated RECs generated by the facility will be sold under 25-year purchase power agreements with Cobb Electric Membership Corp., Flint Electric Membership Corp. (Flint Energies) and Sawnee Electric Membership Corp. Cobb EMC has contracted for about 101 MW, and Flint Energies and Sawnee EMC have each contracted for approximately 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. Serving more than 86,400 electric meters, 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 power facilities with Turner Renewable Energy, as well as one facility with First Solar.

The 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.

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