BLAKELY, Ga. (AP) — A new solar farm is generating electricity in southwest Georgia.
State and industry officials gathered Friday to inaugurate the Bancroft Station Solar Farm near Blakely.
Solar farm developer Silicon Ranch of Nashville, Tennessee built the installation for Walton Electric Membership Corp., a north Georgia electric cooperative. Walton has a contract to supply the power to Facebook for a data center Facebook is building in Newton County.
Silicon Ranch says it hired 675 workers to help build the solar farm, with more than 350,000 solar modules spread out over 1,200 acres (485 hectares). The modules were manufactured by Korean firm Hanwha Q Cells in a new factory in Whitfield County. The solar panels can generate 103 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 40,000 homes.
Silicon Ranch plans to invest $150 million in Bancroft Station and two other Early County solar farms. Power from the other two farms will be sold to a coalition of
Early County Commission Chairwoman June Merritt tells WTVY-TV that tax revenue from the solar farm will help keep property taxes low, as well as provide enough revenue for the county school system to establish a career academy and for county government to give public works employees a raise.
Silicon Ranch says it's taking a new approach to land management at the Early County site, with more than 1,000 sheep grazing to take care of vegetation. The company will also focus on diverse plant life and soil restoration.
Walton EMC has signed an agreement with Silicon Ranch for another similarly-sized solar farm to be built in southeast Georgia. Operations there are supposed to start in 2021.