South Mississippi Electric plans to add to its solar energy portfolio

South Mississippi Electric plans to add to its solar energy portfolio

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from South Mississippi Electric 

Hattiesburg-based South Mississippi Electric (SME) today announced plans to grow its renewable energy portfolio through an agreement with Origis Energy USA, with electricity to be generated at a 52 megawatt (52,000 kilowatts) solar energy facility near Sumrall in Lamar County.

The parties have executed a Letter of Intent to proceed with further negotiations toward a final agreement whereby Origis will design, develop, install and operate the electric generation site, and SME will purchase all power produced at the location. The project is expected to be operational by December 2016 and will provide electricity to about 10,000 homes in the first year.

Solar is considered a clean energy technology as the electricity is produced via sunlight collected by photovoltaic panels.

This agreement comes on the heels of SME's announcement in May that it would build five smaller solar installations (100 kW or less) at five Electric Power Association member locations — Coahoma, Coast, Delta, Southern Pine and Singing River electric power associations. Those solar generation sites are expected to be completed in first quarter 2016.

"For many years, our goal for generation facilities has been fuel diversity,'' said Jim Compton, SME's general manager and CEO. "Today we announce a new goal, to move beyond fuel:  to add generation that does not require fossil fuel.  Our members overwhelmingly want us to diversify our energy to include renewables, and we are responding."

"Origis is honored to team up with SME on this utility scale solar project," said Origis Energy President Guy Vanderhaegen. "Our team has received great support from the local community, the authorities and SME in the development of this project. The solar facility is a state of the art renewable energy source for SME and the Members they serve.  We are excited to break ground later this year."

SME is a not-for-profit cooperative that generates, transmits and sells wholesale electric energy to 11 distribution cooperatives that deliver the electricity to 419,000 customers, or members. Collectively the group is known as the Power of 12.

SME has a diverse energy portfolio that includes natural gas, coal, nuclear and hydropower (another renewable). The broad mix allows the company flexibility to minimize the impact of any significant increases in the cost of a single fuel source. For more information about South Mississippi Electric or future updates on this project, please visit www.MyElectricCooperative.com.