Mississippi Power hopes to expand solar power

LAUDERDALE CO., Miss. (WTOK) - The largest solar power plant in Mississippi is now operational. Mississippi Power made the announcement Tuesday that the 52 megawatt solar-generating facility near Sumrall is up and running and that a similar facility could be headed to this area.

Mississippi Power has filed a request with the Public Service Commission to build a 52-megawatt solar facility in Lauderdale County. Silicon Ranch would be a partner in the project.

SR is the same company that worked with East Mississippi Electric Power Association to build a solar facility at NAS-Meridian this year.

There's no word on when or where this new facility would be built if it is approved, but Mississippi Power spokesperson Jeff Shepard says projects like this are huge for the company and its customers.

"From a Mississippi Power perspective, we think it's a great addition to our fuel portfolio," he says. "We think it's great to have a diverse fuel portfolio and solar power. When the sun is shining, the fuel source is free."

Shepard says that also reduces the burden on customer rates. The PSC would have to sign off on this new project before it can become a reality.

A 3 megawatt solar facility at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport will officially open in July.

Mississippi Power is also partnering with Silicon Ranch on a 50 megawatt solar plant in Hattiesburg that is scheduled to open later this year.