South Mississippi Electric (SME) celebrated the first solar power generation facilities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in March with ribbon cutting events at Coast Electric Power Association in Kiln and Singing River Electric Power Association in Lucedale.
The smaller-scale installations of 100 kW or less are the first two of five such facilities SME plans to construct and operate. SME is a generation and transmission cooperative providing electricity to 11 distribution cooperative members, which include Coast and Singing River Electric Power associations. All cooperatives are owned by their members.
Not-for-profit cooperative SME announced in June 2015 that it would build the facilities and begin operations in first quarter 2016. Coast and Singing River Electric both agreed to provide land for the facilities, which are located next to their respective headquarters.
Solar is considered one of the leading forms of green, or environmentally friendly, energy. Panels are used to collect sunlight that is converted into electricity.
“South Mississippi Electric has entered the solar power generation business,” said Jim Compton, SME’s general manager and CEO. “Our members have expressed a strong desire for renewable energy to be a larger part of our generation mix. Today we took one step toward accomplishing that goal, but not the last.”
Each of the solar sites is approximately one-half acre in size and contains 360 panels.
“Coast Electric continually strives to improve the quality of life of our members and make our communities better places to work and live,” said Bob Occhi, Coast Electric’s president and CEO. “Solar power will provide an environmentally friendly source of electricity and one of our principles is concern for the community, and that benefits everyone.”