Massive Georgia solar energy project coming to South Georgia

Solar power installations, such as this one shown in an AJC file photo, have been built around Georgia in recent years, boosting generation of renewable energy. Now, work is set to begin in Lee County on what is being billed as the biggest solar farm in the state. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Caption
Solar power installations, such as this one shown in an AJC file photo, have been built around Georgia in recent years, boosting generation of renewable energy. Now, work is set to begin in Lee County on what is being billed as the biggest solar farm in the state. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Construction is beginning on a massive Georgia solar power project that developers say will be the biggest in the Southeast, but it may not be for long.

The project in South Georgia’s rural Lee County is slated to cover much of a 3,000-acre site with solar panels and produce 250 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power 47,000 homes.

But the first phase of the project by Silicon Ranch, the solar energy operation for Shell, will serve Walton EMC and support Facebook operations in Georgia, according to a spokesperson for the developer.

That phase of the Desoto Solar Farm project is expected to include about half a million solar panels and be completed in December of 2022, with construction employing more than 400 workers. Two more phases are planned, with overall completion expected in two or three years, according to Silicon Ranch.

Ultimately, the company said it also will have grassland on the site, with sheep grazing.

According to some solar industry players, the biggest existing solar installation in Georgia is a 200 MW operation in Twiggs County. But a state listing of projects affiliated with Georgia Power includes plans for a 260 MW project slated to go in operation in Jefferson County in 2023. Among other large projects are a 213 MW solar farm slated for operation this year in Decatur County and a 220 MW project expected to go online in 2023 in Turner County.

Silicon Ranch already has more than 15 solar projects in Georgia, which it said represent investments of more than $1 billion.

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