Solar farm company waits for approval to build in Forrest County

Solar farm company waits for approval to build in Forrest County

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A solar farm could become reality in the next few months in Forrest County, pending several approvals.

Strata Solar, based in North Carolina, seeks to build a 460-acre solar farm in south Hattiesburg near the Bonhomie Road area. The farm would service 7,500 eligible homes through a power purchase agreement with Mississippi Power.

The company goes before the Hattiesburg Planning Commission Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 1:30 p.m. to get approved for a special use permit in order to build the farm. After that the Hattiesburg City Council will vote on whether to approve or deny that permit, based on a suggestion from the commission.

Strata Solar is also slated for the Public Service Commission's November meeting, where their agreement with Mississippi Power will be approved or denied. That agreement includes customer pricing, which Strata Solar said is decided by the power company.

Strata Solar development consultant April Montgomery said the farm would produce 400 construction jobs during its year of being built, scheduled for the beginning of 2016 and ending by the first of 2017. After construction the farm would run on about six employees.

Montgomery also said the farm would not decrease the value of surrounding properties, which was based on the observation of a local professional who traveled with the group to a similar farm in North Carolina.

The taxes from the project would give a projected $800,000 to the Forrest County School District in its first year of operation of the 50 megawatt farm.

Strata Solar currently has 100 similar projects across 10 states. The farm in Forrest County would be the first in the state through this company, and it would be the third solar farm in the Greater Hattiesburg area, including two in Lamar County.