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Entergy makes plans for solar farm

PHOTO SUBMITTED / The 1x tacking system, which the 2.5 acres of mounted thin film solar panels to be constructed in Brookhaven, will resemble. The city is one of three sites in the state where solar farms will be placed to study the effect of solar energy in Mississippi.

PHOTO SUBMITTED / The 1x tacking system, which the 2.5 acres of mounted thin film solar panels to be constructed in Brookhaven, will resemble. The city is one of three sites in the state where solar farms will be placed to study the effect of solar energy in Mississippi.

The city of Brookhaven has been chosen to take part in a program headed by Entergy that will help the entity learn more about the ins and outs of solar power in the state.

In a proposal approved by the Mississippi Public Service Commission in December, Entergy received permission to install three 500,000 watt solar panel farms in the state: one in the northern region, Senatobia; one in the central region, Jackson; and one in the southern region, Brookhaven.

“In Mississippi, weather can vary greatly throughout the state,” Bill Howard, customer service manager of the Brookhaven/McComb Entergy networks, said. “These three sites will give us the ability to evaluate viability of different conditions such as cloud cover and sun that will help us gain understanding of how location affects solar energy in the state.”

Howard said the state currently gets its energy from natural gas, coal from Arkansas and nuclear power in Port Gibson, but as technology continues to get better and the solar power market continues to increase the state and Entergy are looking for new ways to generate power.

Stion, a manufacturing company based in Hattiesburg, will supply the products for the project which Entergy Project Manager Aaron Hill calls the “first utility owned and operated solar project for Mississippi.” Hill said each site will use 3,500 thin film solar panels that can produce 500,000 watts or 500 kilowatts of energy; enough energy, he said, to equip 175 single-family residences.

Hill explained both the Brookhaven and Senatobia sites will feature fixed tilt mounts which will face the southern sky at a 20 degree tilt while the solar panel mounts in Jackson will follow the sun over the course of the day.

Although the company is currently developing construction plans and have yet to choose an exact site in Brookhaven, Hill said they’re planning for 2.5 acres worth of solar panels in about a five acre plot of land.

“Solar is something we’re excited about to add to the portfolio of energy sources in Mississippi,” Hill said.

Hill projects construction to begin in upcoming months and said their plan is to have the sites in service by the end of 2015.