CUMMING, GA - June 27, 2014
Starting next year, approximately 140,000 members of Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation (Sawnee EMC) will be getting at least a small portion of their electricity directly from the sun. Sawnee EMC announced today that has acquired a 50 percent stake in the total energy produced from a massive new 20 megawatt (MW) solar project, which is located in Jeff Davis County, near Hazlehurst, Ga. This project will be the second largest solar generating facility in the state of Georgia.
The state’s largest renewable energy cooperative, Green Power EMC, of which Sawnee is a founding member, has entered into a power purchase agreement with Silicon Ranch Corporation, the owner of the facility. The project will soon launch operations on the 135-acre tract of South Georgia farmland which will be covered with ground-mounted solar panels.
The new solar endeavor, from which Sawnee EMC and other of Georgia EMC’s will receive output, will utilize over 87,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels. Each panel is 3 feet x 6 feet, and will capture the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity; which will then be transmitted throughout the state. One estimate, from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), suggests that one (1) MW of solar photovoltaic cells could power 164 homes – the Hazlehurst project is twenty (20) times larger than that. Sawnee has committed to purchase 50 percent of the power produced at the site, but will incur no upfront investment costs to do so.
“We are always looking to diversify our overall energy portfolio, especially when it is cost effective and meets the goal of limiting the effects of carbon on our state, with regard to generating electricity; all of which makes good business sense for our members,” said Michael Goodroe, Sawnee EMC’s President and CEO. “The opportunity to take the lead on this project, given its overall characteristics, is very exciting and we look forward to considering other such similar situated energy resources as a part of our electric generation mix.”
Photovoltaic technology makes use of the seeming endless energy from the sun. Each panel at the Hazlehurst site will produces approximately 305 watts of power and has very little impact on the environment. Laid end to end, the panels used in this project would stretch 106 miles.
Utilizing renewable central station energy sources, especially when it makes economic sense, is part of Sawnee’s commitment to its customers and the environment.
Through its Net Energy Metering Program, Sawnee EMC has encouraged the installation and use of residential and commercial solar panels by its members at their residence, or place of business, for several years. Sawnee now has approximately sixty (60) such sites at various locations.
Since 2003, Green Power EMC has been obtaining and selling green power from renewable facilities all over Georgia, including landfill gas generation, low-impact hydroelectric, biomass from wood waste and solar power. Construction on the Hazlehurst project will begin later this year and Sawnee members will be using the solar power resources in early 2015.
“The renewable energy produced by this solar project will be combined on the transmission grid with energy from other conventional sources”, explained Green Power EMC President and CEO Jeff Pratt. “Sawnee is supporting the purchase of additional renewable energy and encouraging more investment right here in Georgia; this project gives the members of Green Power EMC an economical and environmentally friendly way to generate power.”
About Sawnee EMC
Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation is an electric distribution cooperative headquartered in Cumming, Georgia. Sawnee serves electricity to approximately 158,600 accounts in seven (7) counties of greater north Georgia. Sawnee’s assets exceed $524 million, with energy sales of 3.6 billion kWh and annual revenue of $354 million. With a team of approximately 305 dedicated professionals and over 10,150 miles of distribution line, Sawnee stands ready at all times to meet the needs of its members/owners. SEMC strives daily to live up to their motto…
“At Sawnee EMC, We’re More Than Electricity, We’re Service”.
About Green Power EMC
Green Power EMC was the first “green energy” provider in the state of Georgia. It was created by Georgia’s Electric Membership Corporations in 2001 and has been selling environmentally friendly green power since 2003. In addition to landfill gas generation, Green Power EMC obtains green power from renewable facilities all over the state, including low-impact hydroelectric, biomass from wood waste and solar power.