Mississippi Power, Silicon Ranch break ground on new solar energy facility

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Mississippi Power and Silicon Ranch Corp., along with local officials from the city of Hattiesburg, Forrest County and the Area Development Partnership, held a groundbreaking ceremony for the state's largest solar farm in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

When operational, the $100 million facility will generate 50 MW of solar power, enough electricity to supply power to about 6,500 homes.

Members of the Mississippi Public Service Commission were also on hand for the ceremony, held at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg.

"This is the second of three major solar projects that have been approved by the Public Service Commission, demonstrating Mississippi Power's continuing commitment to cost-effective solar development," said Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony L. Wilson. "The Pine Belt region is one of the hubs of economic development in the state and our investments in renewable energy here will contribute to future growth."

"We are committed to having a well-balanced energy portfolio, and are proud to work with Silicon Ranch, Forrest County, the city of Hattiesburg and the Area Development Partnership to make that happen," Wilson added.

In May, Mississippi Power and Origis Energy will break ground on a 52 MW utility-scale solar project in Sumrall. In March, Mississippi Power, the U.S. Navy and Hannah Solar broke ground on a 3-4 MW solar project at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Miss.

The Hattiesburg solar farm will be on 450 acres and will feature more than 600,000 solar panels. The project will create about 400 jobs during construction.

"Silicon Ranch is proud to work with Mississippi Power, the city of Hattiesburg, Forrest County, and the Area Development Partnership to bring this important renewable energy project to south Mississippi," said Silicon Ranch President and CEO Matt Kisber. "As long-term owners of this solar project, as well as several others across Mississippi, we are excited about the economic and environmental benefits it will bring to the community, the surrounding region, and the state."

Silicon Ranch will fund, own, and operate the project and has selected Strata Solar to build it. Mississippi Power will receive all the energy produced at cost-competitive rates over the next 25 years. Mississippi Power will also receive all associated renewable energy credits, which it may use to either serve its customers with renewable energy, use for future renewable energy programs, or sell at wholesale to third parties. The solar project is slated to be complete by early 2017 and once operational, the power will be placed on the Mississippi Power grid.

"The city of Hattiesburg is excited to partner with Silicon Ranch and Mississippi Power to bring abundant, clean energy to the local grid," said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree. "This project diversifies our potential energy fuel offerings and further enhances our reputation as a high-tech community with a pro-business approach. We look forward to a long-standing partnership on this solar energy facility."

Forrest County Board of Supervisors President David Hogan said, "Forrest County has a long track record of aggressively attracting new investment into our community. We are excited to welcome Silicon Ranch as our newest corporate citizen and look forward to the solar farm generating 50 MW of clean solar energy for our region."

The Hattiesburg facility will not replace other Mississippi Power generating plants, but will have the capability to provide energy that will help diversify the company's generation portfolio.

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