South Mississippi Electric (SME) has cut the ribbon on two solar projects located next to the headquarters of the Coast Electric Power Association in Kiln and the Singing River Electric Power Association in Lucedale.
The smaller-scale installations of 100 kW or less are the first two of five such facilities SME plans to construct and operate. SME is a generation and transmission cooperative providing electricity to 11 distribution cooperative members, which include the Coast and Singing River associations.
Not-for-profit cooperative SME announced in June 2015 that it would build the facilities and begin operations in the first quarter of this year. Coast and Singing River both agreed to provide land for the facilities.
“South Mississippi Electric has entered the solar power generation business,” says Jim Compton, SME’s general manager and CEO. “Our members have expressed a strong desire for renewable energy to be a larger part of our generation mix. Today, we took one step toward accomplishing that goal, but not the last.”
Each of the solar sites is approximately one-half acre in size and contains 360 panels. SME says the smaller sites will allow it and its members to better determine the optimum location, best technology and proper configuration for larger, utility-scale facilities.
“Solar will enable South Mississippi Electric to diversify their energy generation and lessen the impact to our members of a price increase from any one source,” adds Mike Smith, Singing River’s CEO and general manager. “We also see the solar facility as a great opportunity for education and a new learning experience for our local students.”
SME plans additional solar sites at the Southern Pine, Coahoma and Delta Electric Power Associations, and those should be operational in the coming months. SME, with assistance from the National Renewable Cooperative Organization, spent several months studying various options and researching proposals for construction of the facilities.
Atlanta-based Hannah Solar was selected to construct and oversee the projects.
Additionally, SME has announced a partnership with Origis Energy USA for a large solar facility in Lamar County. The 52 MW project will be built and operated by Origis, and SME has committed to purchase all electricity generated at the site.
Photo courtesy of the Coast Electric Power Association: The recently completed solar array next to the co-op’s headquarters.