Utility-scale solar roundup: Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Arkansas develop record-size projects


If there’s one solar segment that can weather a pandemic, it’s utility-scale photovoltaics.

Utility-scale supply chains are delayed, not broken — and it’s easier to work safely on a 1,000-acre solar project than on a home. Solar construction firms like Rosendin continue to construct big solar projects.

Once humanity emerges from this calamity, there’s still 30.4 GW of new utility-scale solar contracted in the U.S., according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. The analyst firm suggests that even with a a 26% shortfall from its forecast, “2020 would be the biggest year for utility solar.”

Although utility-scale projects come in many sizes and shapes, there is a trend towards really big, with power fed to the grid, supplying a utility with electricity through a power purchase agreement that guarantees its energy for a fixed term.

WoodMac forecasts that the number of solar projects larger than 120 MWac commissioned in the U.S. will grow from 11 in 2019 to 32 in 2021.

We’re rounding up and tracking these big projects. Here’s a collection of 100 MW and larger (mostly) projects that made news just this week. There’s also a bonus 100 MW battery project.


220 MW university solar project will be biggest in the Commonwealth

The University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1740, signed a Power Purchase Agreement for the creation of a 220 MW solar project that is expected to be the largest solar power project in the Commonwealth.

The project developer is Pennsylvania-based Community Energy.

Until now, the largest solar array in the state was a 70 MW solar array being developed by Lightsource BP.

Pennsylvania has installed a total of 491 MW of solar through Q4 2019 to rank 22nd among U.S. states, according to SEIA.

The University will purchase all the power produced at the two sites in Central Pennsylvania – equivalent to about 75% of the total electricity demand of the campus and the University’s Health System – for 25 years at a rate competitive with conventional electricity prices.


100 MW Sunflower project, the biggest in Mississippi

Mississippi ranks 30th by state with 242 MW deployed through Q4 2019 — but big solar is coming.

Canadian Solar subsidiary Recurrent Energy won approval from the Mississippi Public Service Commission on the $138.4 build-transfer agreement with Entergy Mississippi for the 100 MWac Sunflower project.

Canadian Solar will build the project on approximately 1,000 acres in Sunflower County, Mississippi for Entergy which will own the project once it’s operational in 2022. Charley Patton died in Sunflower County.

The project will use:

Construction of the solar plant is expected to create approximately 360 jobs. Once in service, it will be the largest solar power plant in the state.


Happy Solar — 132 MW in Arkansas, the biggest solar farm in the state

The Conway Corp board of directors approved a 20-year purchase power agreement with Lightsource BP for a 132 MW solar  project in White County, Arkansas, not that far from Kingsland, Arkansas where Johnny Cash was born. Conway Corp runs the municipal electric, water, wastewater, cable TV, internet, TV and home security utility services for the people of Conway, Arkansas.

Lightsource BP will finance, build, own and operate the site and will provide the solar power it generates to Conway under a fixed-rate PPA. The Happy Solar project is located on 700 acres near Happy, Arkansas. The project will create 250 jobs during construction.

Lightsource BP, 50% owned by oil and gas giant BP, has a portfolio of large solar projects in Texas, Alabama and Colorado.


60 MW Palmer Solar project starts operation

Duke Energy Renewables and Colorado Springs Utilities started operation of the 60 MW Palmer Solar project, located southeast of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Some details on the project:

  • Constructed by JSI Construction Group
  • 220,750 modules on 700 acres
  • Uses juwi single-axis trackers
  • Annual generation is 164,400 MWh/year

This is the largest solar project contracted by Springs Utilities to date and the first solar project to interconnect with its transmission system. Under a 20-year agreement, Springs Utilities will buy the electricity Palmer Solar generates from Duke Energy Renewables, which acquired the project from juwi Americas last year.


California community choice aggregator signs deal for 100 MW standalone battery

Clean Power Alliance, a community choice aggregator (CCA), just signed an agreement for a 100 MW stand-alone battery storage project. This is the first energy storage project for the CCA.

The 100-MW/400-MWh hour Luna lithium-ion battery storage project is the largest energy storage agreement for a CCA in California and one of the largest in the state.

Located in the City of Lancaster, in Los Angeles County (Frank Zappa’s boyhood home), the project will be owned and operated by sPower, an independent power producer. Valued at more than $100 million, the project will create approximately 50 construction jobs.


If you have news or rumors about big solar or big energy storage projects — contact the editor: eric.wesoff@pv-magazine.com

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