Tucker, Ga. and Nashville, Tenn. (April 25, 2023) — Today Green Power EMC, the renewable energy supplier for 38 Georgia Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs), and Silicon Ranch, one of the nation’s largest independent power producers and a community-focused renewable energy company, joined local officials, neighbors, and White Oak Pastures to “flip the switch” on the 106-megawatt (MWAC) Clay Solar Project in Bluffton, Georgia. The energy generated by the Clay Solar Project is shared by 30 EMCs from across the state and will generate enough reliable, low-cost energy to help serve more than 17,000 EMC households annually.
Attendees at the event included State Rep. Gerald Greene, the Clay County Board of Commissioners, the Clay County Development Authority, and other leaders from the local community. Participants toured the solar project and learned about the innovative regenerative agriculture practices deployed at the site.
The Clay Solar Project is the ninth utility-scale solar project to reach operational status for Green Power EMC and Silicon Ranch. Collectively, the partners’ portfolio generates more than 550 MWAC of energy, enough to help power more than 90,000 EMC households annually. In 2022, the partners announced an additional collaboration to develop three more projects, totaling an additional 252 MWAC, online by the end of 2024. Silicon Ranch pioneered utility-scale solar in Georgia and remains a market leader, with more than two gigawatts across the state, while Georgia’s EMCs lead the nation among electric cooperatives for utility-scale solar deployment.
Silicon Ranch selected IEA as the Engineer-Procure-Construct (EPC) contractor, which hired more than 400 craft workers to construct the project, with preference given to the local labor pool and the military veteran community.
“Silicon Ranch’s decision to invest more than $100 million in Clay County was one of the most significant events we have had in decades, and we are thrilled with the productive partnership they have developed with Green Power EMC and our own White Oak Pastures,” said Clay County Development Authority Chairman Trey Anderson. “In the years to come, the Clay Solar project will contribute millions of dollars in new tax revenues to support local infrastructure, our school district, and our development authority. Most importantly, Silicon Ranch is further investing in our future by providing scholarships for the students of the Clay County School System.”
Green Power EMC President Jeff Pratt said the Clay County project marks the largest collaborative solar project brought online by Georgia’s electric cooperatives. “Georgia’s EMCs continue to grow their renewable energy portfolio with low-cost solar power projects that deliver value to their members and the rural communities the facilities are located in. By working together, EMCs are helping to meet the growing renewable energy demands of Georgia’s homes and businesses, while supporting economic development in some of the state’s most rural communities.”
“We are proud to partner with Green Power EMC and Georgia’s electric cooperatives on this innovative project, and we thank the Clay County Development Authority and the Board of Commissioners for making this meaningful investment in Clay County possible,” said Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Reagan Farr. “The Clay Solar Project is special to Silicon Ranch for a number of reasons, but I am personally grateful that it provided our introduction to White Oak Pastures and the benefits of regenerative land management.”
The Clay Solar Project officially reached commercial operation in December 2022. When the project in Clay County was first announced in 2018, White Oak Pastures owner Will Harris invited Silicon Ranch to visit Bluffton. Harris introduced Silicon Ranch leadership to the methods of planned livestock grazing and regenerative agricultural practices that his family had been deploying at White Oak Pastures for more than two decades. The result was a new partnership and an innovative model for the solar industry that Silicon Ranch calls Regenerative Energy®, its holistic approach to project design, construction, and land management that is now deployed across thousands of acres it owns and manages across the country.
“There are no losers in this deal,” said White Oak Pastures owner Will Harris. “The Silicon Ranch land will remain pastoral. Our rural community gets much-needed jobs, and a new renewable energy project to be proud of. With the help of our pre-seeding of the site, Green Power EMC and Silicon Ranch will sequester even more soil carbon and create a record of the ecological impact for others to repeat. In the future, consumers can participate by purchasing the pasture-raised meats that will be grazed by Silicon Ranch on our website.”
In addition, Silicon Ranch developed and funded a gopher tortoise sanctuary in partnership with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, relocating gopher tortoises to additional land that Silicon Ranch owns in Clay County. A Georgia-based videographer produced a short film to capture these activities during construction of the facility.
About Green Power EMC
Green Power EMC is a not-for-profit cooperative founded in 2001 to support 38 of Georgia’s electric cooperatives in their search for renewable resources. The primary efforts of Green Power EMC have been to find, screen, analyze, and negotiate power purchase agreements with Georgia-based renewable resource providers. In addition to sourcing renewable energy, Green Power EMC provides education programs that help member-consumers learn both the challenges and opportunities of utilizing renewable energy. For more information, visit greenpoweremc.com or follow Green Power EMC on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
About Silicon Ranch
Founded in 2011, Silicon Ranch is a fully integrated provider of customized renewable energy, carbon, and battery storage solutions for a diverse set of partners across North America. The company is one of the largest independent power producers in the country, with a portfolio that includes more than five gigawatts of solar and battery storage systems that are contracted, under construction, or operating across the U.S. and Canada. Silicon Ranch owns and operates every project in its portfolio and has maintained an unblemished track record of project execution, having successfully commissioned every project it has contracted in its history. Silicon Ranch has the largest utility scale agrivoltaics portfolio in the country under Regenerative Energy® its nationally recognized holistic approach to project design, construction, and land management. This model incorporates regenerative ranching and other regenerative land management practices to restore livelihoods and soil health, biodiversity, and water quality. In 2021, Silicon Ranch acquired Clearloop, which helps businesses of all sizes reclaim their carbon footprint with a direct investment in building new solar projects while helping to bring renewable energy and economic development to distressed communities. To learn more, visit siliconranch.com and clearloop.us. Follow Silicon Ranch on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.