Mississippi and Alabama approve utility-scale solar projects
Mississippi has approved 105 MW of utility-scale PV as the latest state in the U.S. Deep South to do so, and Alabama has given the go-ahead for another 21 MW.
The Deep South has long lagged behind other regions in the United States in the development of solar markets. Even while neighboring states such as North Carolina, Texas and Florida built large solar projects, for years the former cotton states of South Carolina west to Louisiana had extremely limited solar deployment.
This began to change with Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power, which acquiesced to the purchase of 50 MW of solar PV in 2010. Under pressure by a pro-solar majority of state regulators, the utility expanded this multiple times and is now planning to build 900 MW by the end of 2016.
A tide of solar deployment is now sweeping the region. In September Alabama regulators approved a plan by fellow Southern Company subsidiary Alabama Power to procure up to 500 MW of renewable energy, most of which is expected to be solar.
Yesterday this trend continued, with Alabama regulators approving 21 MW of solar projects and Mississippi regulators approving Southern Company subsidiary Mississippi Power's plans for four solar projects totaling 105 MW.
Developers including North Carolina's Strata Solar and Origis Energy will finance and build the projects in Mississippi, which will be located in Hattiesburg, Sumrall and on a U.S. Navy Base in Gulfport. Construction of all three plants is planned for early 2016, and Mississippi Power will buy the electricity generated under long-term power purchase agreements.
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