Through the Green Invest agreement, SUD bought 30 megawatts of a potential 200 offered, which will equal to 15 percent of Starkville’s annual electricity consumption. SUD General Manager Terry Kemp said this agreement will be a part of the company’s dedicated portfolio for the Starkville power supply and provide a clean and cost-effective renewable energy option for customers.
“It’s an effort that TVA is involved with,” Kemp said. “We’re very pleased to have been a part of that. It allows utilities, as well as other large companies, to participate in a long-term approach for renewable type energy.”
Kemp said Green Invest will not cause prices to increase for customers or drastically affect the utility’s cost to purchase power from TVA, but it could help alleviate potential costs in the future.
“It creates a blend of energy,” Kemp said. “It will not affect our rates going forward, but I do think that down the road, it actually could hedge against other costs to make it part of our future generation mix which can help stabilize rates. It’s also an enticement for industry for both existing and new development coming into our area as well.”
TVA spokesperson Scott Fiedler said Green Invest generates economic development in cities that adopt the agreement. He said a primary goal of companies that want to relocate is sustainability. Green Invest allows cities to invest in solar energy, and in turn makes their communities more attractive by giving some of their energy to companies that want to relocate there.
“These solar farms … show that you’re on the leading edge,” Fiedler said. “All of this renewable energy is helping our cities grow and be highly competitive for jobs and investment.”
Green Invest is part of SUD’s Future FOCUS initiative, setting a new direction for the company. Kemp said a goal of his is to promote and provide environmentally-sensitive, efficient service at SUD while continuously growing the utility.
Kemp said the project will begin construction late this year or early next year and conclude to be fully operational in 2023. The solar farm will be constructed at the Infinity Megasite in Lowndes County.
“We’re just excited to be partnering with TVA,” Kemp said. “It allows us to take advantage of renewable products from a very large system. The key is to make sure that you make these decisions so that they make a good economic stance and minimize any impacts on our customers from a rate or reliability standpoint.”
Mayor Lynn Spruill echoed the approval of this agreement and said Green Invest will economically help Starkville.
“As we transition into a cleaner future, the long-term partnership between Starkville Utilities and TVA demonstrates the leadership needed to bring more renewable energy to our community,” Spruill said in a press release. “Renewable energy is something that more businesses want, and having it available makes Starkville more competitive for development.”