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Major solar project to be constructed in Covington County for PowerSouth

An 80-megawatt solar project is another major step closer to reality after receiving an important vote of confidence by the Covington County Commission this week.

Tax abatement policies needed to support the large scale Wing Solar Project in southern Covington County by Origis Energy were approved by a 4-0 vote.

Once completed, the Wing Solar Project will add 80 megawatts of renewable, solar-generated energy to PowerSouth Energy Cooperative’s generation mix. The project is scheduled to come online in late 2022.

In a statement, PowerSouth president and CEO Gary Smith explained the importance of the project.

“This solar project provides PowerSouth and its members a clean resource to help fulfill its mission of providing long-term, reliable and affordable energy,” said Smith. “We remain committed to supporting the stability and development of the communities we serve.”

Greg White, chairman of the Covington County Commission, outlined why he and his colleagues backed the Wing Solar Project.

“Origis Energy, along with our own PowerSouth, has provided a unique opportunity for our county to share in a progressive project providing clean, renewable energy,” stated White. “I’m convinced that Origis will be a good corporate citizen – a responsible and contributing part of our community.”

He further advised that this project will provide direct and immediate benefit to education in Covington County, as no education taxes are being abated.

“This project will be impacting our entire education community through sales tax remittances as soon as construction gets underway – and through ad valorem taxes for the next 30 or more years – making this partnership very desirable for the Commission to participate in,” explained White.

Origis Energy is the same company that in recent years built a 72-megawatt solar facility in Chambers County for Alabama Power’s generation portfolio; most of that generation was earmarked for Walmart, which wanted to utilize renewable energy.

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Similarly, the Wing Solar Project will prepare Covington County as an innovator and help situate the local area for the future, according to Covington County Economic Development Director Rick Clifton.

“Chairman White and the Commission are to be commended for their actions assisting Origis Energy and PowerSouth, an outstanding corporate citizen in our community for years, in their first large scale solar project,” commented Clifton.

“This project will serve as notice that Covington County is taking the lead in innovative, progressive, clean energy production and research,” he continued. “In the coming years, Fortune 500 companies like Google, Facebook, Target, Amazon or Johnson & Johnson will purchase the output of several new solar farms in north Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. We are preparing our county for companies that want to locate where they can draw on clean energy.”

Tony Holmes, Covington County’s District 3 commissioner, added that he wanted to “wish Origis great success in this project as they move forward helping to generate clean energy for years to come” and give “a special thanks to the investors of Origis, PowerSouth and everyone else who played a part in making this a reality.”

The addition of solar energy to PowerSouth’s generation portfolio promotes further diversification of its energy mix, allowing the cooperative to safely deliver reliable and affordable energy while promoting 21st-century community development. The 80 MW solar facility will be enough to power approximately 13,000 homes annually.

“The leadership in Covington County and at PowerSouth have made this solar project possible,” concluded Johan Vanhee, chief commercial officer and chief procurement officer at Origis Energy. “We applaud their efforts to benefit the area and thank them for their collaboration.”

RELATED: Alabama Power, PowerSouth named to select national list of ‘Top Utilities in Economic Development’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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