Georgia, a state that's traditionally known for its reliance on fossil fuels like natural gas and coal for its power supply, is getting a massive 252 megawatt solar power boost.
The new solar energy projects are being developed by Green Power EMC, a renewable energy supplier for 38 Georgia Electric Membership Corporations, and Silicon Ranch, a renewable power developer out of Nashville backed by the oil and gas giant Shell.
That's right, a company partially owned by Shell is developing a really massive renewable power project in the heart of a state that relies on coal and natural gas for the bulk of its energy mix.
The deal will bring renewable power to 16 energy cooperatives across the state from utility-scale solar facilities in Southern Georgia. Silicon Ranch said it would flip the switch on these projects within the next three years.
"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 chief executive 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."
The company's green power push should also equate to more green jobs across some of the more rural portions of the state.
The rural electrification and renewable power push isn't coming from state initiatives. Rather, big tech companies like Meta (the former Facebook) are driving power development as part of their own corporate commitments to reach net-zero goals.
Indeed, the power from at least two of the facilities is specifically intended to supply renewable energy to a Meta data center in Newton County, Ga.
These new projects will bring millions of dollars in tax revenues for the local economies, governments and school systems of the communities, the company said.
Another feature of the project will be the combination of the solar power generation with regenerative agriculture for the cultivation of sheep and pasture land.
"Georgia's cooperatives continue to grow 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, in a statement. "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."
In all, Silicon Ranch is responsible for some 2 gigawatts of renewable power across the state.