Cooperative Energy and Origis Energy today celebrated their new joint venture 52-megawatt solar project in Lamar County, signifying a major commitment to generating environmentally-friendly renewable energy. Elected officials and business leaders joined the two companies at the celebration, held at the facility site near Sumrall in Lamar County. The facility began operation in December. Today’s event included a ribbon cutting to officially unveil the project.
The 540-acre site, the largest east of the Rockies, MS Solar 3, includes 206,000 polycrystalline solar panels, which gather sunlight and transform it to energy that will power up to 11,400 homes. MS Solar 3 uses the best, most efficient solar technology available.
Origis Energy built, owns and operates the facility, while Hattiesburg-based Cooperative Energy has agreed to purchase all electricity the plant produces.
Cooperative Energy is a not-for-profit, Member-owned generation and transmission cooperative that supplies electricity to 11 Member cooperatives that stretch from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee line.
Cooperative Energy owns a diverse generation portfolio including coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables. It began solar generation in 2016 with the start of five 100-kilowatt solar sites built at Members’ local headquarters.
“This new, utility scale solar generator represents a giant step forward for Cooperative Energy in providing solar energy for our members,” said Jim Compton, Cooperative Energy’s president and CEO. “Not only is it one of the largest solar generation plants in Mississippi, it employs the most advanced solar technology available today.”
Origis Energy is helping to power the solar revolution with the construction of more than 100 operations worldwide. The company broke ground on the Sumrall facility in May 2017 and met its goal of production by year end.
“Solar energy benefits all stakeholders – the companies, the end users, the public and the regulators,” said Guy Vanderhaegen, Origis Energy’s CEO and president. “We firmly believe you will see more electrical utility companies seek to expand their portfolio by adding solar and partnering in projects such as this one. This area geographically benefits from an abundance of sunlight and we know it will be successful in reaching its generation goals.”
Additional beneficiaries of the partnership are the Mississippi Scholars and Tech Master programs. Cooperative Energy and Origis Energy in late October announced a $125,000 donation, the largest single gift ever made to the programs.
Mississippi Scholars provides a focus on a STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – curriculum. The program started in 2003 and is now offered in 118 school districts and has recognized more than 40,000 high school graduates. Tech Master helps students acquire the necessary skills to thrive in the workplace. The program started in 2014 and is now offered in 83 school districts and has recognized more than 3,000 high school graduates.
The two companies also donated $25,000 to the Lamar County Education Foundation, which will help support students throughout the district. Project funding was provided by Global Atlantic Financial Group, Origis Energy and Wells Fargo.