Mississippi regulators have approved two new large-scale solar projects in Mississippi this week.
Central District Commissioner Brent Bailey held a hearing in Forest Thursday on a proposed solar facility in Scott County. Bailey approved the project, issuing an order that provides the owners of the facility a certificate of public convenience and necessity, which is required for any power-generating facility.
The Pearl River Solar Park, which will be located near the Rankin County line on 1,760 acres, will be one of the largest solar facilities in the state once commercial operation begins in 2023. The facility will generate 175 megawatts of electricity and the customer will be the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the regional transmission operator that includes Entergy in its membership. Approval by MISO is likely due this December and an unnamed customer will buy the power from MISO.
“There’s been a lot of interest in the state,” Bailey told the Northside Sun. “We have good land prices, good infrastructure to interconnect to and to have access to varying markets such as the MISO market and the TVA market. I think we’re situated well to be attractive to investors.”
The project is supposed to cost $235 million and construction will take about 12 to 15 months. It will be owned by EDP Renewables North America, an energy firm based in Houston
On Monday, Southern District Commissioner Dane Maxwell did the same for a facility located in Covington County that will be operated by Cooperative Energy.
The 96-megawatt facility, known as MS Solar 4, is the third project approved by Maxwell since he was sworn into office in January 2020 with a total investment of $165 million. The facility is supposed to be online by 2023.
The facility is supposed to create 100 construction jobs and three permanent jobs on-site once it becomes operational. It will be owned by Origis Energy, which could own six solar energy facilities in the state if approved by regulators.
Bailey said that the growth in utility-scale solar projects isn’t likely slowing down in Mississippi.
“We know that all projects don’t come to fruition, it’s the law of averages,” Bailey said. “But there have been some projects that have been in the queue for quite a while with financial backing. I think we’re going to see more projects come before the commission in the next year.”
MS Solar 5 is planned to be a 200-megawatt facility with a 50-megawatt battery storage unit and will be built in Lowndes County, with the Tennessee Valley Authority as off-load customer. Origis won a request for procurement under the TVA's Green Invest program.
Also in Lowndes County, Origis will be building another 200-megawatt facility (MS Solar 6) that will supply Facebook via the TVA.
MS Solar 7 is planned for Clay County, with TVA as the off-load customer for the 200-megawatt facility that also includes a 50-megawatt battery storage unit. It is planned for completion in 2023 and its electricity is intended to serve Knoxville, Tennessee via the TVA.
Origis also owns a 52-megawatt facility near Sumrall that provides power for Mississippi Power and became operational in 2017.
Entergy will also be entering the solar arena in a big way after several smaller demonstration projects, as Canadian Solar will operate a 100-megawatt facility on the utility's behalf on 1,000 acres in Sunflower County. The facility is scheduled to be operational next year.