- Mississippi regulators unanimously approved three solar projects with an expected capacity of 105 MW and a cost of almost $200 million, but Mississippi Power Co. ratepayers will not be on the hook for any construction costs, the Sun Herald reports.
- The solar farms will serve Mississippi Power customers for at least the next 25 years, regulators said, and are expected to help keep rates lower.
- Construction will begin next year at three different locations in the company's service territory; the projects can power approximately 15,500 homes.
Solar hasn't taken off in Mississippi as it has in other states. In particular, there has been contention over Mississippi's lack of a net metering policy, which the state's biggest utilities — Mississippi Power and Entergy Mississippi — oppose. The current PSC has until the end of the year to make a decision before newly-elected commissioners take their positions, the Mississippi Business Journal reports.
However, these last few months have seen activity from utilities in the state interested in the resouce at grid scale. Last month, Entergy Mississippi brought the first of three pilot solar arrays online as part of its ten-year plan. That 500 kW solar project became the first utility-scale solar installation in the state. Now, the Public Service Commission (PSC) this week approved three solar farms for Mississippi Power, which would be the largest installations in the state when complete, according to the utility.
"These cost-effective, utility-scale solar energy projects once again place Mississippi Power at the forefront of the state's energy economy by adding renewable energy into the company's portfolio," the utility's president, Anthony Wilson, said in a statement. "Working together with our partners, these projects will have a substantial impact on the amount of electricity generated by renewables in Mississippi."
The projects include:
- Mississippi Power and Strata Solar are partnering on a 450-acre, 50-MW electric solar generating station to be located in Hattiesburg
- The utility is also partnering with Origis Energy on a 52-MW utility-scale solar energy project to be located in Sumrall
- Hannah Solar, the U.S. Navy and the utility are partnering on a 23-acre, 3 MW to 4 MW solar project to be located at The Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport
According to the utility, project developers will finance each installation with Mississippi Power receiving all of the energy and associated renewable energy credits generated by the projects. The power will be purchased through long-term power purchase agreements with the developers.
Mississippi Power said the new facilities would not be replacing its generating plants, "but will have the capability to provide energy that will help diversify the company's generation portfolio and help keep rates affordable for customers."
Construction will begin early next year, the utility said.