Groundbreaking ceremony for solar facility held at NAS Meridian

The Department of the Navy (DON), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), East Mississippi Electric Power Association (EMEPA) and Silicon Ranch Corporation (Silicon Ranch) broke ground May 25, on a solar generation facility at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, Mississippi.

Approximately 51,000 solar photovoltaic panels will be installed on land leased from the DON. The facility will generate up to six megawatts of direct current power. Silicon Ranch will fund, build, own, operate and maintain the facility, which is expected to be completed in 2018. 

Notable ceremony presenters included Capt. Scott Bunnay, commanding officer, NAS Meridian; John Kliem, executive director, DON’s Resilient Energy Program Office; Steve Noe, Renewables Manager, TVA; Randy Carroll, CEO, EMEPA; Matt Kisber, president and CEO, Silicon Ranch; and Mississippi Public Service Commissioners Cecil Brown and Brandon Presley. 

“Partnerships, like the one between the Department of the Navy, TVA, EMEPA and Silicon Ranch make us stronger and better equipped to complete our mission,” said Bunnay. “NAS Meridian’s success in effectively managing energy resources has been recognized at the highest levels of the Navy, and efforts like the solar project, to diversify energy sources help bases become more resilient and secure.”

The facility will provide power to the grid for consumption by TVA and EMEPA customers, including NAS Meridian. In exchange for the use of on-base land for the solar facility, NAS Meridian will receive in-kind consideration in the form of electrical infrastructure upgrades, microgrid controls and access to the onsite solar energy generation during utility outages, thus, increasing the energy resiliency and security of the base.

“TVA is committed to being a trusted energy partner as part of our mission of service to the Valley,” said Noe. “The solar installation at NAS Meridian is a great example of how renewable energy sources can provide clean, local generation as a fully integrated part of the larger power system.”

“EMEPA has been a partner of NAS Meridian for nearly 59 years and we continue to support their efforts in improving their viability,” said Carroll. “This in turn aids in the growth of our community.” 

“Silicon Ranch is honored to partner with the Department of the Navy, TVA and EMEPA on this important solar energy project,” said Kisber. “Forward-thinking organizations like the U.S. Navy have an opportunity to drive positive change, and the leadership for each of our partners on this project deserves tremendous credit for their vision and commitment to bring cost-effective, renewable power to NAS Meridian and to Lauderdale County.”

Adding cost-effective alternative energy provides fuel diversity and increases regional energy resiliency and security. 

“Projects like this prove that we can achieve multiple savings and benefits for the people of Mississippi and enhance the national security of America while enhancing military bases in our state,” said Commissioner Presley. “This is a win-win project. Using cost effective solar power is using common sense.”

“The MS Public Service Commission is proud to be a part of today’s ribbon cutting for this important project,” said Brown. “We commend the Navy for leading the way in making renewable energy a reality for supplying our military with power.”

The DON continues to improve readiness, combat effectiveness and flexibility through initiatives that focus on energy reliability, resiliency and efficiency.

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