Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC), a consumer-owned utility with a reputation for energy innovation, and Silicon Ranch, one of the nation’s largest independent power producers, announced that two more solar facilities are now operational in Georgia to help support Facebook’s operations in the state.
Approximately 450 people, the majority of whom were hired locally, worked to complete both projects on schedule before the end of 2020. Silicon Ranch partnered with PCL to construct the 20-MWAC Odom Solar Farm, located in Colquitt County in southwest Georgia, and selected IEA to build the 25-MWAC Appling Solar Farm in Appling County in the southeastern part of the state.
The solar facilities are part of a portfolio of Silicon Ranch projects that will provide power to Walton EMC as part of the utility’s agreement to supply 100% renewable energy for Facebook’s data center in Newton County, Georgia. On behalf of Facebook, Walton EMC and Silicon Ranch have executed contracts for six projects totaling 435 MWAC of new renewable generation, catalyzing meaningful investments in six separate rural communities across the state.
“Our partnership with Silicon Ranch continues to be success after success,” said Walton EMC CEO Ronnie Lee. “One of the bedrock principles our cooperative operates by is ‘concern for community,’ and while this entire process benefits the local communities and customer-owners whom Walton EMC serves, including Facebook, it’s also benefitting communities all across our state, many that can certainly use an economic boost right now. In addition, Silicon Ranch’s unique approach to land management at these sites propels those benefits to an even higher magnitude.”
“In 2020 our team expanded Silicon Ranch’s legacy for successful project delivery and for ‘doing what we say we will do’ by working proactively and responsibly to navigate a global pandemic and deliver these projects on schedule for Walton EMC and Facebook,” said Silicon Ranch co-founder and CEO Reagan Farr. “We thank all the men and women at PCL, IEA, and Georgia Transmission Corporation who supported our efforts and helped us continue this compelling economic development narrative in the state of Georgia.”
“We are thrilled that these new solar projects are online and will help us meet our goal of supporting our data center in Newton County with 100% renewable energy from projects in Georgia,” said Urvi Parekh, head of renewable energy at Facebook. “We thank Silicon Ranch and Walton EMC for their continued partnership and for sharing our commitment to have a positive impact on the communities where we locate.”
In addition to generating renewable energy, the Odom and Appling facilities feature Silicon Ranch’s holistic approach to land management, a model the company has trademarked as Regenerative Energy. Under this unique platform, Silicon Ranch will restore the land to a functioning shortgrass ecosystem while keeping the property in agricultural production through managed sheep grazing. Key to this approach is managing the land based on close observations of soil, grass, and the water cycle, resulting in additional and quantifiable ecological, economic, and social outcomes that are backed by third-party verified standards.
The first certified Regenerative Energy power plant was the 102.5 MWAC Bancroft Station Solar Farm in Early County, which Silicon Ranch commissioned in 2019 and which was the first of its six projects with Walton EMC and Facebook. With today’s announcement, the partners now have three operational facilities that combine to produce 147.5 MWAC to help support Facebook in Georgia. Silicon Ranch is currently building the remaining three projects in the portfolio and is scheduled to complete all three before the end of 2021.
News item from Walton EMC