2014-10-22 / Front Page

Solar panels to cover 500 acres in Burke County

By Anne Marie Kyzer

Hundreds of acres in Burke County will likely be covered in solar panels by 2016.

A large-scale solar project planned for this area was one of 10 statewide that were selected by Georgia Power to provide electricity and fulfill the company’s commitment to utilize some 500 megawatts of utility scale solar generation. The company received 142 proposals from 52 bidders seeking to win contracts to supply solar energy, including one from White Oak Solar LLC for a facility in Burke County west of Waynesboro. The facility would be located along Rocky Creek Church Road between Highways 56 and 24.

Georgia Power is set to enter a 30-year power purchase agreement with White Oak Solar LLC, which turned in the bid for the White Oak Solar Project. The facility would begin generating power by Dec. 31, 2016 and supply energy until 2046. The White Oak Solar Project is planned as a 76.5 megawatt facility. Based on estimated acreage requirements provided by Georgia Power, the solar panels could cover more than 500 acres of land. Company officials said depending on the characteristics of the property, it generally takes six to seven acres of panels to produce one megawatt of electricity.

Georgia Power’s agreement with White Oak Solar still hinges on approval from the Public Service Commission, which has been watching the company’s process for requesting and evaluating bids each step of the way. The commission’s decision is expected in December, according to Georgia Power spokesperson John Kraft. Once the Commission certifies the project, White Oak will move forward.

White Oak Solar LLC’s parent company was not made known in the filing, but two other projects have similar names including

White Pine Solar in Butler and Live Oak Solar in Metter. All of them appear to be affiliated with NextEra Energy Resources, which is said to be the largest generator of wind and solar power in North America. It’s a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, which is also the parent company of Florida Power and Light.

NextEra was one of two companies that had requested tax abatements for their projects from the Burke County Development

Authority. The authority chose not to offer any incentives, since the projects do not produce more than a handful of jobs. The other company that inquired about the tax incentives, Origis, withdrew its proposal.

Proposals for five other large utility-scale facilities were selected by Georgia Power in Butler (three facilities), Bainbridge and Metter.

Smaller-scale projects are also slated for Millen, Bainbridge, Brunswick and Butler.

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