ATLANTA, Ga., February 28, 2019 – Six weeks after pledging to “ensure that every part of our state has access to opportunity” in his first State of the State address, Governor 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.
At a ceremony in the State Capitol, flanked by state and local officials and joined by representatives from Silicon Ranch and Georgia’s electric membership corporations (EMCs), Governor Kemp hailed the investment as the result of many different groups working together with a shared vision for a stronger Georgia.
“While metro Atlanta and other urban areas continue to grow and thrive, my goal is that we realize our full potential as a state and create a bright and promising future for all Georgians—regardless of zip code,” Governor Kemp said. “Through strategic partnerships with private sector leaders such as Silicon Ranch and Facebook, our electric cooperatives have made it clear that they embrace their responsibility as economic development drivers for their communities. Today we proudly proclaim ‘A New Day in Rural Georgia,’ powered by the sun.”
The governor 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, a rural community in Early County. Silicon Ranch will hire upwards of 400 craft workers for the ten-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. “Simply put, Georgia-made products will produce energy in Georgia communities to power Georgia homes and Georgia businesses,” said Governor Kemp.
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 they serve. Silicon Ranch is honored to partner with them and with Facebook, and we thank the Early County Board of Commissioners and the Early County Development Authority for making this investment possible.”
District 151 Representative Gerald Greene (R., Cuthbert) said, “More than a quarter of Early County residents live below the poverty line. Silicon Ranch’s capital investment will provide new tax revenues for the Early County government and the school system, and provide a significant stimulus to the local economy. We are extremely grateful to Green Power EMC, Walton EMC, and Facebook for selecting Silicon Ranch to bring these meaningful projects to our community.”
June Merritt, Chairman of the Early County Board of Commissioners, said, “Today’s announcement marks an important milestone for our community and underscores that we are ready to meet the business requirements of the modern economy. We welcome Silicon Ranch, a recognized national leader in the solar industry, as a long-term member of Early County.”
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, the County Manager, and other County officials.