October 21, 2020

Florida company plans 200-megawatt solar energy facility in Mississippi

A renewable energy company will build a 200-megawatt solar facility in northeast Mississippi, under a contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

TVA awarded the contract to Florida-based Origis Energy, the Commercial Dispatch reported.

Johan Vanhee, chief commercial and procurement officer for Origis, met with landowners of the proposed site Wednesday near Columbus, Mississippi. Construction is tentatively set to begin the second half of 2021. The contract says Origis will begin providing energy to TVA in October 2022.

Vanhee praised the eight landowners, who together have about 4,000 acres (1,619 hectares) where the project will be built near the Infinity industrial megasite.

“About two years ago, here at the airport, I met with most of the homeowners and asked them to step with me onto a journey that must have seemed like a futuristic project,” Vanhee said. “That was the beginning of a project, specifically for TVA with no guarantee that TVA would ever be interested. So today, I’m happy I can announce that TVA has said yes to the project, at least part of the project.”

The 200-megawatt site will use the energy produced by 650,000 solar panels, enough power to serve 45,920 homes.
Origis, through its subsidiary MS Solar 5, originally planned to build a $200 million, 350-megawatt facility, the maximum amount of energy capacity at TVA’s new substation located at Infinity.

“The 350-megawatt site would be the largest energy storage facility east of the Mississippi,” Vanhee said. “But the 200-megawatt site will still be one of the biggest.”

Vanhee said his company hasn’t abandoned plans for what will ultimately be a 350-megawatt facility.

“What I said to TVA was, ‘If you are ever interested in the additional 150 (megawatts), let me know,'” he said.

Vanhee declined to say how much investment is required to build the 200-megawatt project.

The project with Origis will also mark the first time TVA has contracted to provide renewable energy to more than a single customer and its first entry into renewable energy storage.

“Before today, their renewable energy was always linked to an industrial company,” Vanhee said. “This will be the first time TVA has done it for itself. This is not for one customer, but for all its customers. If a residential customer wants renewable energy, that person will be able to go to TVA and make that request.”

In a news release, TVA vice president Doug Perry noted the landmark nature of the agreement with Origis.

“We are moving to contract large volumes of solar for our customers, whether it’s for large business customers … or smaller businesses or residential customers who use our Renewable Energy Certificate to help offset their carbon footprint,” Perry said.