2018-11-07 / Front Page

Solar projects: $160M

Construction to begin in January

The Early County Development Authority and Board of Commissioners agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding Monday which provides for the construction of three solar projects representing an investment of over $160 million.

“Unlike the previous proposed solar projects which were contingent upon a contract with Georgia Power, this is a done deal,” attorney Bill Mills stated. “This company already has the power that will be produced by the facilities sold.”

The solar projects will be built by Silicon Ranch Corporation, the same company which announced investment of $89 million in two solar projects in Bluffton last week.

Two of the projects (20 megawatts and 102.5 megawatts) will be located in the eastern section of the county near Arlington. The third project (70 megawatts) will be located near Cedar Springs in the southwest section of the county.

Construction of two of the projects will begin in January 2019 and are projected to be completed by December 2019.

The construction of the projects will involve approximately 300 construction jobs.

The MOU will go before the Board of Education for approval at their Nov. 13 meeting. The Board of Assessors and the Tax Commissioner will also be executing acknowledgements of the terms of the MOU.

Similar to agreements involving other solar projects and large economic development projects, the MOU provides a schedule of annual payments (PILOT - payments in lieu of taxes) to the County, Board of Education and Authority in lieu of 65 percent of property taxes. The sites upon which the project will be located will remain subject to property taxes.

Over the 25-year term of the agreement, total payments to the County and Board of Education will as follows: County - $2,661,613; BOE - $4,494,536.

In addition the company will pay the Development Authority bond and administrative fees and $4,500 for annual scholarships and $7,500 annually to be used at the discretion of the Authority.

It was noted Monday that the projects meet the requirements in solar power regulations adopted by the county last year.

It was also noted that the $64 million project near Hilton proposed by Summit Energy and Early Solar and the $115 million project on Five Bridges Road, both part of Georgia Power’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative, are both still active projects.

Highlighting the positive impact the investments will have on his district, District 151 Representative Gerald Greene stated at last week’s announcement in Atlanta of the Clay County projects, “This significant capital investment will provide new tax revenues for the county government and the school system, and provide a real stimulus to the local economy.”

Silicon Ranch Corporation, the U.S. solar platform for Shell, includes a portfolio of more than 120 solar farms across 14 states, from New York to California, including the first large-scale solar projects in Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.

The facilities in Early and Clay counties are part of a portfolio of projects announced in June by Silicon Ranch and Green Power EMC, the renewable energy supplier for 38 Georgia Electric Membership Corporations. The facilities are scheduled to come online before the end of 2021 and will generate almost 200 megawatts of solar energy, enough clean, renewable power to help serve over 35,000 homes for the next 30 years.

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