COVINGTON, Ga. — Representatives of Snapping Shoals EMC (SSEMC) helped “flip the switch” Wednesday, May 11, on a 68-megawatt Houston Solar project off Interstate 75 near Perry.
One of the most visible solar projects in the state, it was built by Green Power EMC.
Green Power EMC is the renewable energy supplier for 38 Georgia electric membership cooperatives, including SSEMC, and Silicon Ranch, which is one of the nation’s largest independent solar power producers. The Houston County facility will reportedly provide enough power to serve 11,000 EMC customers.
Several state and local officials were on hand for a dedication event held Wednesday, including Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, members of the Georgia Public Service Commission.
“The Houston Solar project further demonstrates the commitment of Georgia’s EMCs to providing their consumers with cost-effective renewable energy that strives to meet the needs of a cleaner energy future,” Duncan said during the dedication ceremony. “This site uses advanced technology to maximize its clean energy production, and the benefits are multiplied by creating jobs, driving economic development and delivering significant tax revenue to the local government and school system for decades to come.”
SSEMC Board of Directors members Millard Ross, Anthony Norton and Alfred Flanigan, and employees Keith Adams and Scott Fuss, attended the event to celebrate the project and learn more about the positive benefits it will deliver statewide.
Under the terms of a 30-year agreement with Silicon Ranch, Green Power EMC will purchase all the energy generated at the site on behalf of its member EMCs, while Silicon Ranch owns and operates the facility.
Matt Kisber, Silicon Ranch’s cofounder and chairman, said Silicon Ranch has partnered with Green Power EMC to build about $1.5 billion in solar projects across Georgia, employing more than 5,000 workers.
As a clean energy source, the solar site’s environmental offset is equivalent to approximately 124,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, SSEMC officials said. The Houston County solar site also co-locates renewable energy production with regenerative agriculture practices on the same land, including land management using planned sheep grazing.
Green Power EMC is a not-for-profit cooperative founded in 2001 to support 38 of Georgia’s electric cooperatives in their search for renewable resources. SSEMC officials said the primary efforts of Green Power EMC have been to find, screen, analyze and negotiate power purchase agreements with Georgia-based renewable resource providers. In addition to sourcing renewable energy, Green Power EMC provides education programs that help member-consumers learn both the challenges and opportunities of utilizing renewable energy.
Snapping Shoals EMC is a Newton County-based cooperative that provides electricity to approximately 99,000 homes, businesses and other facilities in an eight-county area that includes large portions of Newton, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as parts of DeKalb, Butts, Walton, Jasper and Morgan counties.
Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.