Cox Enterprises held a ribbon-cutting event earlier this month for one part of its Conserves Sustainability program, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. Douglasville's Turnipseed site is one of three Georgia solar farm sites, along with one more developed at Jacksonville, Florida.
Turnipseed Solar Farm is one of three sister projects delivered by VeloSolar for this program in 2017. The event served to highlight all four locations and demonstrate the company's stated ongoing commitment to become carbon neutral by 2044.
In total, the newly installed 42,000 solar panels harness enough energy from the sun to produce 13 megawatts of power. Together, the four locations will produce enough electricity to power 2,200 homes annually,
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with the Douglasville site accountable for about 466 homes.
Additionally, they prevent nearly 14,000 tons of carbon from entering the environment, which is the equivalent of taking 3,300 cars off the road, according to information provided in a Cox Enterprises press release.
The Douglasville site is described in a Facebook post by the Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land.
"This new solar energy project sits on about 20 acres," the post reads. "The solar energy company bought a +/- 315-acre tract for the site. Once they completed the engineering and permitting work they carved out the 20 acres that they needed into its own parcel and donated the balance of the land. Anneewakee Creek runs through the property with a large flow rate and spectacular cascades and falls."
"In Douglasville, we've received great feedback from residents who are thrilled about how the property is being used," said Cox Enterprises Assistant Vice President of Environmental Sustainability, Steve Bradley.
Bradley, contacted by phone, added that the news that the property was being developed as a solar farm site versus an assumption that it would be yet another subdivision development came as a great relief to neighbors.
"It's a huge opportunity to get a lot more renewable energy put on the grid, and leverage other people's resources by using Piedmont or Velo … so that's how we look at deals like this, and it's a great story of innovating," said Bradley.
According to information available at VeloSolar.com, "...the commissioning of our latest addition to the GreenPowerEMC portfolio of projects... [a] 3.9 MW solar farm in Douglasville, feeds into the portfolio of renewable projects which provide the EMC's of Georgia with clean solar power to offer their customers."
The four project sites represent the company's second partnership with Piedmont Energy Connection (PEC) Velo, and are a part of 34 total solar PV projects Cox has completed in the past decade.
According to Bradley, the Douglasville site represents about $7 million of the Cox Enterprises investment in the $25 million partnership that created the four solar farms in Georgia and Florida.
"Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land will work with Douglasville to determine best use for the balance of the property, which was donated into conservation and may be turned into public land for a possible bike trail and/or park development" explained Walter Hall, managing member, Piedmont Private Equity/PEC Velo, also contacted by phone. "[But] if it's to be a park, that process is only just beginning," Hall said.
Attempts to contact county officials regarding confirmation or even tentative plans for the balance of the property by press time were unsuccessful.
The farms in Georgia are located in Douglasville, near Highway 92 and Anneewakee Road; Cairo in southwest Georgia, and Winder. The fourth and largest farm of the four, located in Jacksonville, Florida, uses an advanced single-axis tracking system designed to allow the solar panels to track the sun as it travels across the sky from sunrise to sunset. The tracking system allows the solar farm to be 30 percent more efficient than fixed-tilt solar farms.
Launched in 2007, Cox Conserves is Cox Enterprises' national sustainability program. Cox Conserves focuses on reducing waste and energy consumption, as well as conserving water. The company's sustainability goals are to send zero waste to landfill by 2024 and become carbon and water neutral by 2044.