- Energy Mississippi brought the first of three pilot solar arrays online, the first commercial scale solar project in the state. This initiates the $5 million "Bright Future" solar test project approved by the Mississippi Public Service Commission as part of the utility’s ten year plan.
- The completed installation and one of the others will be fixed-tilt arrays, while the third will have tracking technology that rotates the panels to keep them facing the sun as it crosses the sky.
- All three sites are scheduled to be online by the end of 2015. A monitoring station will provide Entergy and its customers real-time information about each array’s productivity via the utility’s website.
Mississippi may be a late comer to the solar party in the U.S., but Entergy says it is committed to studying the technology to determine the feasibility of further adoption for the state.
Entergy estimates the new 500 kW ground-mounted system, built with 3,700 Stion modules on the site of a previously proposed fossil fuel facility, could power 60 homes. It will be tested as a supplement to the utility’s baseload fossil and nuclear generation.
Overall, the three pilots are expected to help meet increased customer interest in renewables. They will also answer questions for the utility about solar economics and the feasibility of commercial scale solar in Mississippi.
The three sites are located across the state to help Entergy understand locational impacts of solar on its grid, how differences in sites impact an installation’s capacity factor, and what kinds of variations in output there will be from different weather patterns and irradiance.
A 2014 study from Synapse Energy Economics showed the benefits of implementing net metering to drive growth in distributed solar PV in Mississippi outweigh the costs in all but one scenario. The report also found distributed solar could help avoid significant infrastructure investments by the state’s utilities, could take pressure off peaking resources, and put downward pressure on rates.