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generated across three locations in southern Georgia— including Ailey— and will produce enough low-cost, renewable power to help serve more than 44,000 EMC households annually.
Silicon Ranch is funding the three utility-scale solar facilities and plans to build them in stages over the next three years. The company will also own, operate, and maintain the arrays for the long-term. Green Power EMC will purchase all the energy and environmental attributes generated by the facilities on behalf of its member cooperatives. This unique procurement model allows participating cooperatives to capture value through economies of scale and source low-cost renewable power to benefit the members and communities they serve.
The site at Ailey will be an 80 MWAC solar facility located on 875 acres in the northwest corner of the county, stretching north to south from Ga. Highway 292 to U.S. Highway 280. Silicon Ranch plans to construct the project, to be known as Ailey Solar Farm, in 2024 and expects the facility to be online late that year.
Silicon Ranch has committed to invest approximately $90 million to construct the Ailey facility and (beginning in late 2023/early 2024) plans to hire about 300 craft workers over the 12-month construction period, the majority of whom will be recruited from Montgomery County, the surrounding area, and the military veteran community, according to a company spokesperson.
Once the Ailey Solar Farm is operational in late 2024, the project will generate significant tax revenues (an estimated $260,000 annually) to support the local government and school system. In addition, Silicon Ranch has pledged an annual $10,000 payment for a college scholarship fund to be awarded each year to an outstanding Montgomery County student.
As Silicon Ranch explored the right solution for its co-op partners, they were fortunate to work closely with Joe Filippone, the Executive Director of the Montgomery County Development Authority (who is also a U.S. military veteran himself), who helped lead the recruitment of the Ailey project, according to Matt Kisber, Silicon Ranch’s co-founder and chairman who personally led the effort on the company’s behalf.
“This project and this investment would not have been possible without the tremendous cooperation we have received from Joe Filippone, who led the recruitment of this exciting new project. He is an excellent economic development professional and a great ambassador for Montgomery County,” said Kisber, who was previously the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development for the state of Tennessee and a long-time economic development professional.
Kisber also remarked that Leland Adams and the rest of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and L. Perry Avery, Jr., the attorney for the Development Authority, also played important roles in helping to bring the project to Montgomery County.
In 2013, Silicon Ranch pioneered utility-scale solar in the state of Georgia, and today is one of the largest independent producers of solar power in the United States. “Silicon Ranch looks forward to becoming the newest corporate citizen in Montgomery County and working with local officials to help maximize the economic and environmental benefits this project will bring to the surrounding region for decades to come,” Kisber said.
“We put together a contract that will be good for them (the investors) and good for the county,” Filippone said. He explained that the Development Authority, which is not reaping any monetary benefits from the contact, will act as a title holder to allow certain tax breaks for the company. He said that an insurance policy has been put into place to cover any unforeseen issues that may arise over maintenance or disassembling of the site.
“As much as possible, we will urge the use of local contractors for building and maintaining the site,” Filippone said.
Montgomery County Commission Chairman Leland Adams said, “The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners is excited about Silicon Ranch’s decision to construct one of their solar power facilities in Montgomery County. Their investment will provide economic and educational rewards for Montgomery County while providing clean energy. The commissioners and I applaud their management practices, as well. The agricultural and environmental aspects of this project really go to show you that this company has a lot of credibility. We certainly welcome Silicon Ranch to our community.”
The power produced at the site will be sold to Georgia Power that will in turn sell the power to an EMC for use in Dalton County.
Other Area Solar Farms
A second solar site being built by Silicon Ranch, Snipesville III, will be a 107 MWAC solar facility located in Jeff Davis County. Construction is expected to commence later this year, and the facility is scheduled to be operational by mid-2023. The site will be in close proximity to two other cooperative solar projects. Nearby, Silicon Ranch and Green Power EMC commissioned Snipesville I (86 MWAC) in December 2020. Silicon Ranch completed construction of Snipesville II (107 MWAC) in December 2021 to provide power to one of Green Power EMC’s member cooperatives, Walton EMC, as part of the utility’s agreement to supply renewable energy to Meta’s data center in Newton County. The third site in the portfolio, DeSoto II, will be a 65 MWAC solar facility located in Lee County. Silicon Ranch expects to begin construction in late 2022 and plans to bring the facility online by late 2023. The facility will be built next to DeSoto I, where construction is already underway and, like Snipesville II, the DeSoto I facility will serve Walton EMC to support Meta’s Georgia operations. Governor Brian P. Kemp joined officials from Silicon Ranch, Green Power EMC, Walton EMC, and Lee County for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the project site
in October 2021.
Investments in Communities
“Over the past eight years, Silicon Ranch has been proud to work shoulder to shoulder with Green Power EMC and the Georgia cooperatives to deploy more than one gigawatt of solar power and invest more than $1 billion across the state of Georgia,” said Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Reagan Farr.
“Over the past year, Silicon Ranch employed more than 1,000 Georgians to help us construct solar facilities across the state, and thanks to the leadership of Green Power EMC and Georgia’s electric cooperatives, we will hire 1,000 more to help drive meaningful economic impacts in the communities where we locate,” Farr said.
Silicon Ranch has committed to make significant capital investments and hire local craft workers in Jeff Davis, Lee, and Montgomery Counties to construct the projects over the next three years. Once the projects are operational, they will generate millions of dollars in new tax revenues to support the local economies, governments, and school systems of these rural communities for decades to come, according to a company news release. Each of the projects will integrate Silicon Ranch’s Regenerative Energy model, a holistic approach to design, construction, and operations that co-locates solar energy production with regenerative agriculture practices. Once each project is operational, Silicon Ranch will restore its land to a functioning grassland ecosystem, while keeping the site in agricultural production through managed grazing using regenerative pastureland management practices. The innovative approach to land management delivers valuable environmental, social, and economic outcomes above and beyond the significant positive impacts a solar facility alone can produce, creating additional value for the surrounding communities and project stakeholders.
“Georgia’s cooperatives continue to grow continued from page
their renewable energy portfolio with collaborative, low-cost solar power projects that deliver value to their members and the rural communities they locate in, not only through the clean energy they provide, but also through the manner in which it is generated,” said Green Power EMC President Jeff Pratt. “By combining renewable energy generation with regenerative agriculture practices, this innovative solar portfolio with Silicon Ranch will benefit the people, land, environment, and local economies in Jeff Davis, Lee, and Montgomery Counties.”
The 252 MWAC portfolio further expands the industry-leading partnership between Silicon Ranch and Green Power EMC. Silicon Ranch pioneered utility-scale solar in Georgia and remains a market leader, with nearly two gigawatts across the state. Georgia’s cooperatives lead the nation among electric co-ops for solar deployment, and in the past six years have grown their solar portfolio by 8,000 percent.
About Green Power EMC Green Power EMC is a not-for-profit cooperative founded in 2001 to support 38 of Georgia’s electric cooperatives in their search for renewable resources. The primary efforts of Green Power EMC have been to find, screen, analyze, and negotiate power purchase agreements with Georgia-based renewable resource providers. In addition to sourcing renewable energy, Green Power EMC provides education programs that help member- consumers learn both the challenges and opportunities of utilizing renewable energy.
About Silicon Ranch Corporation
Silicon Ranch is one of the largest independent solar power producers in the country, with nearly 150 operating facilities across more than 15 states coast to coast. Silicon Ranch owns and operates every project in its portfolio and has maintained an unblemished track record of project execution, having successfully commissioned every project it has contracted in its history. In recognition of its holistic approach to land management, which the company has trademarked Regenerative Energy, Silicon Ranch was named 2020’s “Most Forward-Thinking” company by Solar Power World. Silicon Ranch pioneered utility-scale solar in Georgia and remains a market leader, with nearly 2 Gigawatts across the state.