A handful of well-known companies, along with three cities in Texas, have contracted to receive electricity from what would be the largest solar farm built to date in the U.S.
Invenergy, a Chicago, Illinois-based energy company, said the Samson Solar Energy Center is scheduled to come online in 2023. The facility is under construction in northeast Texas. Invenergy in a Nov. 18 news release said the Samson site, which will be built in five phases, is expected to have 1,310 MW of generation capacity when fully operational.
The Samson project’s expected generation capacity is nearly double that of the 690-MW Gemini project planned in Nevada, which has held the title for the largest planned U.S. solar project.
Invenergy said the Samson site stretches across three counties—Lamar, Red River, and Franklin—and represents a $1.6 billion investment. Invenergy said about 600 jobs will be supported during the three-year construction period. The company also touted the project’s economic impact to the region, saying it will provide more than $250 million in lease payments to local landowners, and about $200 million in property tax payments, over the life of the project.
HDR, an Omaha, Nebraska-based engineering company, is serving as owner’s engineer on the project.
‘Expertise at a New Scale’
“Invenergy continues to lead the energy transition, and this record-setting project demonstrates our expertise at a new scale,” said Ted Romaine, senior vice president of Origination at Invenergy. “The Samson Solar Energy Center is the latest example of what can be achieved when companies and utilities seek an innovative partner to meet their sustainability goals and invest in a clean energy future.”
The project will help power the Texas communities of Bryan, Denton, and Garland. It also has corporate off-take agreements with AT&T, Honda, McDonald’s, Google, and Home Depot. AT&T’s deal calls for the telecommunications company to receive 500 MW of generation from the project.
Scott Mair, president of AT&T Technology & Operations, in a statement said, “At AT&T, we believe renewable energy is good for the planet, for our business, and for the communities we serve. With more than 1.5 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, our portfolio delivers clean electricity to the grid, helps to create jobs and community benefits, and supports the transition to a low-carbon economy. We’re excited to participate in Invenergy’s Samson project through the largest corporate solar energy deal in the U.S.”
A Large and Growing Solar Portfolio
Invenergy is among the leading developers of renewable power resources in the U.S., and has more than 3.5 GW of solar and wind power capacity under contract in the U.S. The company earlier this year began operating what is currently its largest solar project, a 160-MW array in Georgia.
Commercial and industrial (C&I) procurements of solar power generation capacity have become a leading driver for solar demand, particularly corporate agreements to contract for offsite solar generation. POWER tracked more than 6.5 GW of offsite commercial and industrial solar procurement in 2019. That pace has slowed in 2020, mostly due to the coronavirus pandemic, but POWER still expects C&I procurement of solar to top 6 GW this year.
—Darrell Proctor is associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).