Southern Company acquires 30 MW Pawpaw solar facility in Georgia, U.S.

A subsidiary of U.S. utility Southern Company has added to its growing renewable energy portfolio with the acquisition this week of a 30 MW solar PV plant in Georgia, U.S.

Southern Power is to acquire the Pawpaw power plant from developer Longview Solar LLC, which is a joint venture of Elemental Energy Inc. and Tuusso Energy LLC. The Atlanta-based Southern Power confirmed that the acquisition takes its solar generation capacity in the state to 385 MW.

The Pawpaw project will begin construction in July using 137,000 solar panels from Trina Solar, and a 30-year power purchase agreement with Southern Company’s Georgia Power utility for the plant’s solar energy and renewable energy credits (RECs) is already in place. Commercial operation is penciled in for the fourth quarter of this year.

The solar plant will be located across 416 acres in Taylor County, and Trina Solar’s modules will be mounted on single-axis trackers supplied by NEXTracker. Southern Power will oversee all O&M requirements, with DEPCOM Power confirmed as the EPC of the plant.

"Southern Company is delivering sustainable energy solutions for the benefit of customers," said Southern Company CEO, president and chairman Thomas A. Fanning. "This investment increases our fuel diversity and builds on our commitment to create better lives and a better energy future for America."

The Pawpaw facility will enter Southern Power’s growing renewable energy portfolio, which now stands at more than 1.2 GW of clean energy, spread across 17 projects dotted throughout the U.S. Southern Power’s business strategy is to grow its wholesale business through the acquisition and construction of generating assets that are locked-in with long-term contracts.

Georgia Power, which will purchase Pawpaw’s energy, is making good progress with its Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI), which aims to procure 210 MW of solar PV via the utility-scale RFP program and the 2015/16 Distributed Generation Program.

The initiative was launched ahead of criticism of the utility’s lack of solar development in 2013, with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) compelling the company to add 525 MW of solar generation to its forward planning strategy.