A renewable energy development group said it has started work on the first of three planned solar-plus-storage projects in Mississippi that will serve both residential and industrial customers.
Origis Energy, headquartered in Miami, Florida, on Oct. 11 said the three installations will have total solar power capacity of 550 MW, along with a total of 150 MW of energy storage. The projects are being built for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which said they represent the largest battery energy storage portfolio to date in Mississippi. Origis is developing, and will oversee construction and operation, of all three sites.
The projects include Golden Triangle II (150 MWac, 50 MW storage), which is expected to enter commercial operation next spring; Golden Triangle 1 (200 MWac), 50 MW storage), expected online next summer; and Optimist, (200 MWac, 50 MW storage), scheduled for completion in mid-2025.
“Clean energy investments have both a direct and positive impact on the businesses and residents of Mississippi,” said Tanya Sessions, VP of Business Development for Origis Energy, in an email to POWER. “By investing in clean energy and bringing economic development to areas around Mississippi, that means we’re also bringing in new industrials who are locating near these renewable facilities. And these industrials are looking for solar. They’re looking for storage. They’re looking for ways to power their manufacturing facilities. But also, they are looking for ways to help them meet their decarbonization goals.”
The Golden Triangle installations are located in Lowndes County, with Optimist sited in Clay County. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), in a report with data through June of this year, said Mississippi has 438 MW of installed solar power capacity, with solar providing less then 1% of the state’s electricity. SEIA said Mississippi ranks 36th among states in installed solar generation capacity. The group said the state is expected to add about 1.8 GW of new capacity, including the Origis projects, over the next five years.
Meeting Customer Demand
“TVA is a clean energy leader, and we’re working with partners, like Origis, to add solar power to our system to meet customer demand,” said Jeremy Fisher, SVP Commercial Energy Solutions with TVA. “Projects like these, ensure we can continue to provide affordable, reliable, resilient and sustainable energy to fuel the region’s economic growth.”
The companies on Wednesday said the projects are expected to deliver electricity at what they called “competitive rates” under power purchase agreements between TVA and Origis. TVA will use the power for some of its large industrial customers in Mississippi, as well as for residential ratepayers. The groups estimate economic benefits from the three projects will include $106 million in near-term construction, and new jobs, for the area, along with another $145 million in estimated regional economic benefits over the life of the plants.
“Our office has worked continually with both TVA and Origis through all phases of this project,” said Joe Max Higgins, CEO at the Golden Triangle Development Link. “These investments provide a unique diversification to our tax base and upon completion provide additional tax revenue to the counties and the schools.”
RES Providing Construction Services
Origis said RES (Renewable Energy Systems) will provide construction services for the projects. Origis Energy Services will operate and maintain the facilities after completion and during their lifecycle, which officials estimate at 35 years or more. The utility-scale battery storage for each site is provided by Mitsubishi Power Americas.
“As the momentum behind renewable energy projects continues to surge throughout the United States, the significance of battery energy storage as a linchpin for a sustainable energy future cannot be overstated,” said Tom Cornell, senior vice president of Energy Storage Solutions at Mitsubishi Power Americas. “Our enthusiasm is palpable as we embark on the construction of these vital projects, aiming not only to enhance the efficiency and capacity of solar initiatives but also to bolster Origis and TVA in achieving their commendable sustainability objectives.”
Johan Vanhee, chief commercial and procurement officer of Origis Energy, said, “By helping companies meet their renewable goals, it becomes very attractive to locate or expand in Mississippi. We are pleased to partner with the Tennessee Valley Authority to use sustainability as an economic development tool, and what’s good for the environment is also good for business.”
Lowndes County is in eastern Mississippi, along the border with Alabama. Trip Hairston, a county district supervisor, said, “Lowndes County is happy to partner with TVA and Origis to bring this increased capability to the TVA footprint. The clean energy benefits for the region and the economic development that result from cooperation on mutually beneficial projects like this continue to strengthen our already solid partnerships with both industry and TVA.”
Green Invest Program
The Mississippi projects are part of TVA’s Green Invest program, which matches renewable energy demand from a variety of organizations to new TVA-based solar installations through a public-private partnership. KUB—the Knoxville Utilities Board, located in TVA’s headquarters city—is a driver of the program.
“KUB is actively seeking opportunities to invest in renewable energy. When KUB invests in partnerships such as TVA’s Green Invest program with projects including the Origis solar projects in Mississippi, those initiatives help KUB to meet customer and community sustainability goals,” said Gabriel J. Bolas II, KUB’s president and CEO. “Overall, these partnerships are helping to position KUB and Knoxville as leaders for solar power investment nationwide.”
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).