GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Power and D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments in Lamar County have collaborated on what is the largest solar generating facility in Mississippi. And today, dignitaries from around the state will gather at the Highway 42 complex in Sumrall for a dedication ceremony.
The 52 megawatt solar generating facility began operating and supplying power to the Mississippi Power grid last Tuesday.
A news release from Mississippi Power says the plant brings innovative solutions to its customers. In that news release, Mississippi Power Environmental Affairs Director Mark Loughman said, "I would like to commend DESRI, the Mississippi Public Service Commission and all of our partners for their commitment to bringing this facility online in Lamar County."
The project covers 600 acres and includes 225,000 solar panels. The facility can generate enough solar energy to supply electricity to some 8,000 homes in Mississippi. Among the speakers is former senator Trent Lott who now works as a lobbyist for the solar industry.
"We really do think the time has come for solar down here. The costs are just plummeting. If you looked at costs in solar even five years ago, your data would be wrong. If you looked at them even one year ago, your data would be wrong. The price just keeps coming down," said Thomas de Swardt, Sr. Vice President of D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments.
In addition to the Sumrall facility, Mississippi Power and its partners are scheduled to open two more solar generating facilities in 2017 that will strengthen the company's position as the largest partner in providing solar generation in the state of Mississippi.
A 3 MW solar facility at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport will officially open in July. Mississippi Power is also partnering with Silicon Ranch on a 50 MW solar plant in Hattiesburg that is scheduled to open later this year.
"You couldn't have found a solar project in Mississippi with a SWAT team and a search warrant ten years ago. Now it seems that just almost on an every couple of months basis, we're out cutting a ribbon and talking about putting more of our resources, natural resources, on the grid," said Brandon Presley, Mississippi Public Service Commission.