ATLANTA – Six weeks after pledging to “ensure that every part of our state has access to opportunity” in his first State of the State address, Gov. Brian Kemp announced a significant capital investment coming to rural southwest Georgia. Silicon Ranch Corporation, the U.S. solar platform for Shell and one of America’s largest independent solar power producers, has committed to invest approximately $150 million in three solar projects in Early County.
“While metro Atlanta and other urban areas continue to grow and thrive, we have work to do in rural Georgia. We must create a bright and promising future for all Georgians – regardless of zip code,” Kemp said Thursday. “Through strategic partnerships with private-sector leaders like Silicon Ranch, our electric cooperatives have made great strides as economic development engines for local communities across Georgia. This is a promising first step toward ‘A New Day in Rural Georgia’ powered by the sun.”
Kemp announced that the first of Silicon Ranch’s three projects, a 102.5-megawatt solar farm built in partnership with Walton EMC to help support Facebook’s data center in Newton County, is already under construction in Blakely. Silicon Ranch will hire more than 400 craft workers for the 10-month construction project, the majority of whom are being recruited from the local community and surrounding region.
Silicon Ranch will power its facility with more than 355,000 solar modules sourced locally from Hanwha Q CELL’s new manufacturing facility in Whitfield County, the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
“This innovative project will result in Georgia-made products providing energy in Georgia communities to power Georgia homes and Georgia businesses,” Kemp said.
The power generated from Silicon Ranch’s two other solar farms in Early County will be sold to Green Power EMC, the renewable energy supplier for 38 Georgia EMCs and provide low-cost and reliable solar energy to more than 30 EMCs across the state.
Silicon Ranch Co-founder and CEO Matt Kisber, who previously served eight years as Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, said that Georgia’s electric cooperatives are well-positioned to make renewable energy a cornerstone of their economic development strategy.
“Green Power EMC and Walton EMC are nimble, creative, and customer-centric utilities that share a sense of duty to the members and communities that they serve,” Kisber said. “Silicon Ranch is honored to partner with them and Facebook, and we thank the Early County Board of Commissioners and the Early County Development Authority for making this investment possible.”
Members of the Georgia Public Service Commission, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and several state legislators were on hand to witness the ceremony. A delegation from Early County also attended, including members of the Early County Board of Commissioners, the Development Authority of Early County, the Blakely-Early County Chamber of Commerce, the Early County Board of Education and other local officials.