By Atlanta Business Chronicle

Georgia Power bought a series of solar projects of up to 1 megawatt (MW) in Murray County, Ga., co-developed by United Renewable Energy LLC and Mack Creek Energy LLC.

Atlanta-based Georgia Power reported the purchase Monday and said it plans to sell the output from the facility to Dalton Utilities. Georgia Power will lease property for the solar facility from Dalton Utilities, which will buy 100 percent of the plant's capacity and energy through a 25-year power purchase agreement.

The plant will be built on Looper Bridge Road in Dalton by Alpharetta, Ga.-based United Renewable Energy and will be owned and operated by Georgia Power, a unit of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO). The first phase of the facility is expected to begin commercial operations in spring.

The facility will be developed in phases with each phase comprising about 350 kW. Georgia Power has the option to construct two additional 350 kW phases for a total of 1 MW by January 2014. One megawatt is enough energy to supply a Super Target or approximately 400 Georgia residences.

Energy produced from the solar facility will be sold on the wholesale market, meaning the cost of the facility will not become part of Georgia Power's retail rate base.

"This contract marks the first time Georgia Power has acquired a solar energy production facility to serve the wholesale market," said Jeff Burleson, Georgia Power's director of Resource Policy and Planning. "Not only will it increase the amount of solar resources in the state, but it also strengthens our partnership with Dalton Utilities, a fellow co-owner of the two new nuclear units under construction at Plant Vogtle."

Georgia Power's energy portfolio now includes contracts with 14 qualified biomass and renewable facilities throughout Georgia that generate 28 MW of capacity, or enough renewable energy to power more than 11,200 homes.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

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