GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A new solar energy facility is up and running on the Seabee base in Gulfport. This new solar farm will not only produce electricity, it will also produce a sense of security.
With the ribbon cutting signaling a new beginning, the 13,000 solar panels are now generating four megawatts of power, enough to run 450 homes. Tony Smith is the project manager with Mississippi Power.
"The energy from the array today is routed off the base onto the Mississippi Power distribution system, and it is feeding our distribution system and that demand currently," Smith explained.
This is just the beginning of a new energy strategy, according to Mississippi Power President Anthony Wilson.
"We have another solar facility that is proposed for Lauderdale County. It would specifically be in support of NAS, Naval Station Meridian," said Wilson.
This solar farm is a collaboration between Mississippi Power and two other solar energy firms, explained public service Commissioner Brandon Presley.
"This particular project adds value to the Seabee base here in Gulfport, which adds value to Mississippi's military installations. It's a good deal for Mississippi Power Company customers," Presley said.
It's been a longtime goal of the Department of Defense to build these solar panels on military bases across the country, and there's an important reason why that's being considered. Capt. Cheryl Hansen is the commander of the Seabee base.
"As each renewable energy facility comes on line, it contributes to and continues to help build America's energy security posture. When completed, America's energy sources will be less susceptible to crippling attacks from our enemies or from natural disasters," said Hansen.
In addition to clean and secure energy, this growing industry also means more jobs. Pete Marte is the CEO of Hannah Solar.
"50,000 we've committed to hire in the next few years in the industry, so it's really a great transition from the military back into civilian life," Marte told the crowd.
Now, the panels will breathe new life into America's energy future.
The Seabee base facility cost about $6 million to build. It was paid for entirely by WGL Energy and Hannah Solar under the agreement with Mississippi Power.