Mississippi Power lays out plans to build solar facility at Seabee base

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Department of the Navy and Mississippi Power has announced plans to build a four megawatt, direct current solar facility at Naval Battalion Center in Gulfport.

According to a press release, the facility will be built on 23 acres of land provided by the Seabee base. In exchange for the land, the base will receive in-kind consideration in the form of electrical infrastructure upgrades. Once online, the power generated will benefit Mississippi Power customers, which includes the base, as well.

The Seabee base is no stranger to energy efficiency and security efforts, having been awarded the FY 2015 Secretary of the Navy's Energy and Water Management Award in the Small Shore category.

The base's commanding officer Capt. Cheryl M. Hansen commended the agreement.

"NCBC Gulfport plays a critical role in keeping our Seabees trained and deployable at a moment's notice," said Hansen in a press release. "This project, coupled with our existing energy programs, will increase the energy security of the installation, which will allow us to operate more effectively during times of crisis."

Mississippi Power developer Hannah Solar will finance and build the project, with power being routed to the Mississippi Power electric grid. The company expects to break ground on the project early this year and bring the facility online by the end of 2016.

"This cost-effective, utility-scale solar energy project once again places Mississippi Power at the forefront of the state's energy economy by adding renewables into the company's portfolio," said Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony Wilson in a press release. "Working together with the Navy and Hannah Solar, this project will have a substantial impact on the amount of electricity generated by renewables in Mississippi. We continue to work closely with our military leaders to help them meet their renewable energy goals."

Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, provides electricity to 23 counties in the southeastern part of the state, including the Gulfport Seabee base.

This project is one of five collaborations between the DON and Southern Company subsidiaries. The parties have broke ground on solar facilities at naval bases in Kings Bay, Pensacola, and Whiting Field in the last six months. The fifth project location is expected to be announced this spring. The five projects combined could produce nearly 200 megawatts direct current.

Renewable energy generation projects improve the DON's energy security, operational capability, strategic flexibility and resource availability.

In addition to the Seabee Base project, Mississippi Power is also partnering with developers to build solar facilities in Hattiesburg and near Sumrall, MS.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.