Silicon Ranch Corp., the Nashville-based solar energy developer started by former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and two of his cabinet members, will invest $89 million to build two solar projects in Bluffton, Georgia.
The utility-scale facilities 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 (EMCs). The Bluffton facilities are scheduled to come online before the end of 2021 and will generate more than 100 megawatts of solar energy, or enough power to serve 19,000 homes.
Eventually, Green Power EMC and Silicon Ranch plan a total of 194 megawatts of solar generation at four locations in middle and south Georgia. Under their agreement, Silicon Ranch will own and operate the solar facilities, and Green Power EMC will purchase the energy produced over a 30-year period on behalf of 30 electric cooperative members.
"Silicon Ranch is committed to the people of rural America who deserve low-cost, clean energy and an economic shot in the arm," said Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Matt Kisber, who served eight years as Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development under Gov. Bredesen before starting the solar company in 2011. "They are our fuel and what our company is all about."
Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle hailed the investment as a victory for rural Georgians:
"Growing diverse industry hubs across our rural communities will ensure our state continues to be the nation's number one place to do business – and the impact of this major investment will be felt across Clay County and Southwest Georgia for years to come," he said. "Silicon Ranch is truly a leader in solar innovation – and I commend them for investing in Georgia and developing strong partnerships with our electric cooperatives to bring cutting-edge renewable infrastructure to our state."
When combined with a separate 200 megawatt solar power purchsse from other generators, the amount of solar power used by Georgia EMCs will more than double from the current 245 megawatts to about 639 megawatts by 2021.
Silicon Ranch has already erected or planned more than 16 other solar generating facilities across the country, including the 8 megawatt solar farm on a 66-acre site at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.