A large-scale utility solar boom continues in Mississippi as several new projects are seeking approval from state regulators.
Wildflower Solar LLC has petitioned the Mississippi Public Service Commission for permission to build a solar facility in DeSoto County. The planned 100 megawatt facility will be owned by San Francisco-based Clearway Energy Group and will be constructed on 550 acres in the north Mississippi county. It will require an investment of $90 million.
Wildflower will enter a power purchase agreement with an unnamed company, but won't directly provide electricity to the customer. Instead, Wildflower will provide power to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) — the regional transmission operator that Entergy has membership — and the customer will receive electricity from MISO.
The facility will create 300 construction jobs and three permanent positions. If approved by the commission, the facility will begin construction in 2022 and have a goal of commercial operation by the last quarter of that year.
In other solar developments, Central District Public Service Commissioner Brent Bailey will hold a hearing on September 15 for the Pearl River Solar Park at the Scott County Courthouse in Forest at 4 p.m. The solar facility would be the largest in the state in terms of acreage and will be built on 1,760 acres in northwest Scott County near the Rankin County line.
The facility will have a generation capacity of 175 megawatts that will require an initial investment of $235 million and it will be owned by EDP Renewables North America, an energy firm based in Houston. Construction, subject to PSC approval, will begin in 2022 and commercial operation will happen the following year.
“Mississippi has affordable land and adequate interconnection infrastructure to help support construction and access energy markets,” Bailey said. “I think it would be accurate to say that we are experiencing growth (especially in utility-scale solar) on par with other states even though we don’t really have the policy drivers in place that other states may have.”
MS Solar 4 is asking the PSC for permission to build a a 96 megawatt facility in Covington County. Like the Wildflower facility, MS Solar 4 will have a off-load contract with an unnamed customer, who'll purchase the electricity from MISO.
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 if all are approved by the PSC.
In August, the PSC issued an order with PSC Chairman and Southern District Commissioner Dane Maxwell to hold a hearing on the project.
MS Solar 5 will 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 its off-load customers. 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 have one of the state's largest solar facilities, 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 by 2022.