Green Power EMC, the renewable energy supplier for 38 Georgia Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs), and Silicon Ranch, one of the nation's largest independent solar power producers, announced an agreement to bring an additional 252 megawatts (MWAC) of solar energy online to serve 16 subscribing cooperatives from across Georgia. The total capacity will be generated across three locations in southern Georgia and will produce enough low-cost, renewable power to help serve more than 44,000 EMC households annually.
Silicon Ranch is funding the three utility-scale solar facilities and plans to build them in stages over the next three years. The company will also own, operate, and maintain the arrays for the long-term, a disciplined approach Silicon Ranch takes with every project it develops. Green Power EMC will purchase all the energy and environmental attributes generated by the facilities on behalf of its member cooperatives. This unique procurement model allows participating cooperatives to capture value through economies of scale and source low-cost renewable power to benefit the members and communities they serve.
The first site, Snipesville III, will be a 107 MWAC solar facility located in Jeff Davis County. Construction is expected to commence later this year, and the facility is scheduled to be operational by mid-2023. The site will be in close proximity to two other cooperative solar projects. Nearby, Silicon Ranch and Green Power EMC commissioned Snipesville I (86 MWAC) in December 2020. Silicon Ranch completed construction of Snipesville II (107 MWAC) in December 2021 to provide power to one of Green Power EMC's member cooperatives, Walton EMC, as part of the utility's agreement to supply renewable energy to Meta's data center in Newton County.
The second site in the portfolio, DeSoto II, will be a 65 MWAC solar facility located in Lee County. Silicon Ranch expects to begin construction in late 2022 and plans to bring the facility online by late 2023. The facility will be built next to DeSoto I, where construction is already underway and, like Snipesville II, the DeSoto I facility will serve Walton EMC to support Meta's Georgia operations. Governor Brian P. Kemp joined officials from Silicon Ranch, Green Power EMC, Walton EMC, and Lee County for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the project site in October 2021.
The third site, Ailey, will be an 80 MWAC solar facility located in Montgomery County. Silicon Ranch plans to construct the project in 2024 and projects the facility to be online late that year.
"Over the past eight years, Silicon Ranch has been proud to work shoulder to shoulder with Green Power EMC and the Georgia cooperatives to deploy more than one gigawatt of solar power and invest more than $1 billion across the state of Georgia," said Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Reagan Farr. "Over the past year, Silicon Ranch employed more than 1,000 Georgians to help us construct solar facilities across the state, and thanks to the leadership of Green Power EMC and Georgia's electric cooperatives, we will hire 1,000 more to help drive meaningful economic impacts in the communities where we locate."
Silicon Ranch has committed to make significant capital investments and hire local craft workers in Jeff Davis, Lee, and Montgomery Counties to construct the projects over the next three years. Once the projects are operational, they will generate millions of dollars in new tax revenues to support the local economies, governments, and school systems of these rural communities for decades to come.
Each of the projects will integrate Silicon Ranch's Regenerative Energy® model, a holistic approach to design, construction, and operations that co-locates solar energy production with regenerative agriculture practices. Once each project is operational, Silicon Ranch will restore its land to a functioning grassland ecosystem, while keeping the site in agricultural production through managed sheep grazing using regenerative pastureland management practices. The innovative approach to land management delivers valuable environmental, social, and economic outcomes above and beyond the significant positive impacts a solar facility alone can produce, creating additional value for the surrounding communities and project stakeholders.
"Georgia's cooperatives continue to grow their renewable energy portfolio with collaborative, low-cost solar power projects that deliver value to their members and the rural communities they locate in, not only through the clean energy they provide, but also through the manner in which it is generated," said Green Power EMC President Jeff Pratt. "By combining renewable energy generation with regenerative agriculture practices, this innovative solar portfolio with Silicon Ranch will benefit the people, land, environment, and local economies in Jeff Davis, Lee, and Montgomery Counties."
The 252 MWAC portfolio further expands the industry-leading partnership between Silicon Ranch and Green Power EMC. Silicon Ranch pioneered utility-scale solar in Georgia and remains a market leader, with nearly two gigawatts across the state. Georgia's cooperatives lead the nation among electric co-ops for solar deployment, and in the past six years have grown their solar portfolio by 8,000 percent.