Southern Company’s subsidiary, Georgia Power, commissioned a 30MW alternating current solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant at Fort Gordon military installation in Augusta, Georgia, US, in November 2016.
The facility was developed by a joint collaboration between Georgia Power, the US Army Office of Energy Initiatives Task Force, and the US General Services Administration (GSA). It is owned, operated and maintained by Georgia Power.
Investment in the Fort Gordon solar facility amounts to approximately $75m. The project helps to drive up solar energy in Georgia, while allowing the US Army to meet its renewable energy goals in the state.
Fort Gordon solar project background
Fort Gordon project is the second of three 30MW solar power plants developed at military bases in Georgia. In May 2014, Georgia Power filed its plan with the Georgia Public Service Commission to develop three 30MW alternating current solar PV projects in partnership with the US Army and the US GSA, under the 2007 Integrated Resources Plan (IRP).
Georgia Power received approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission to construct, own, operate and maintain the three PV projects in Georgia in October 2014.
Located at the Fort Benning Army base, the first facility was inaugurated in June 2016. Construction on the third plant, situated at Fort Stewart Army base near Savannah, began in May 2015 and was completed in the fourth quarter of 2016. The plant was commissioned in December 2016.
The three solar PV plants, collectively referred to as Georgia 3×30, contribute to the US Army’s plan to procure 1GW of renewable energy by 2025. The combined output of the three plants accounts for 18% of the US Army’s energy consumption in Georgia.
Fort Gordon solar PV facility location and plant make-up
The PV power project is situated at Fort Gordon, a US Army installation nine miles (14.48km) south-west of the City of Augusta in Richmond County in east-central Georgia.
Groundbreaking for the facility was held in May 2015. The plant occupies approximately 270 acres of government-owned land, acquired by Georgia Power from the US Army under a 35-year land easement agreement.
Installed with 137,520 ground-mounted PV panels, which are rated at 305W each, the plant produces enough electricity to power 4,300 homes per year. The PV panels are placed in a rack to produce approximately 42MW of direct-current-using semi-conductor devices.
The renewable energy produced at the Fort Gordon solar power plant is supplied to Georgia Power’s customers through the civilian power grid. Georgia Power developed a micro-grid to distribute the electricity from the plant in the event of civilian electric grid failure.
The plant can also generate renewable energy exclusively for the Fort Gordon military installation.
The US Army intends to purchase the power produced at the Fort Gordon solar PV array through an existing ten-year area-wide public utility contract between Georgia Power and the US GSA.
Utility infrastructure at the Fort Gordon PV facility
The Fort Gordon solar plant incorporates power transmission and distribution systems, including inverters, batteries, transformer and micro-grid technology. The power inverter devices, rated between 30kW and 1,000kW, are installed to convert the 42MW of direct current produced by the solar panels into 30MW of alternating current.
The facility is also provided with battery storage systems to perform voltage control, which ensures safe power supply and storage of the solar power.
Under the land easement agreement with the US Army, Georgia Power established an electric transmission line right-of-way (ROW), which allows the construction of additional transmission lines.