The Magnolia State, which has the lowest per capita income in the country, has been slow to embrace renewables because it remains dependent on natural gas and nuclear power.
the pv magazine USA tour of the solar incentive last stop was Alabama, and now moved to Mississippi.
Mississippi, the Magnolia State, is 32ndn.d big and 35th most populous state in the United States and ranks 37th in solar installations. The state is home to the 1.4 GW Grand Gulf Nuclear Power, the largest single-reactor nuclear power plant by generating capacity in the country, which, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), generates about 17% of electricity in the state by 2021 The Pascagoula oil refinery, located on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, is the 10th largest refinery in the country. Natural Gas is also large in Mississippi, with about one-fourth of the total US underground salt cavern natural gas storage capacity. Natural gas is the primary fuel used in nine of the state’s 10 largest power plants, supplying about 72% of Mississippi’s electricity generation by 2021.
The state’s dependence on fossil fuels, combined with relatively cheap electricity—currently at 12.61 cents per kWh—may leave little incentive to go solar. Or can it? The state is prone to hurricanes and tornadoes—with 113,000 people without power from Hurricane Ida in 2021.
The state currently has about 321 MW of solar installed, or enough to power more than 34,000 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Total solar investment in the state is about $365 million. Change may be on the horizon; however, while SEIA projects 2.3 GW to be added over the next five years, bringing the state up to 22n.d in the country for installed solar.
In the fall of 2021, Entergy announced its intention to expand renewable energy in its territory when it launched EDGE, for “Economic Development with Green Energy,” a program aimed at replacing aging natural gas facilities with 1,000 MW of renewable energy, including solar. , in the next five years. This level of additional capacity will increase the company’s total power generation portfolio from less than 1% to 17% in three years, and nearly 33% by 2027. Entergy expects to have 11,000 MW of renewable energy generation by the end of 2030.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved the final changes to the state’s net metering policy, called the “Net Renewable Generation Rules”. The program aims to improve access to solar for low- and middle-income (LMI) residents.
The base net metering rate is below the full retail price of electricity, at 2.5 cents per kWh in what is considered the ‘avoided cost’ of solar. In this sense, cost avoidance refers to the difference between the cost of solar generated on a rooftop and the cost of the utility that takes energy from another generation facility.
The new net metering rules also include a requirement that each of the state’s investor-owned utilities offer a one-time $3,500 upfront cash rebate to any retail residential customer who purchases in a renewable distributed energy project of at least 3 kW and which provides a maximum of 110 % of the expected annual use of the customer. The PSC also added meter aggregation provisions to the program, meaning customers with multiple meters can use energy generated by a solar or other form of distributed generation (DG) system at any eligible meter. them. Appropriate meters must be located in the same area or within the service area of the customers’ current electric provider.
The number of customers who can participate in net generation has also been increased, with the previous hard 3% participation cap increasing to a 4% non-hard cap.
In 2022 the Mississippi Public Service Commission approved a revised distributed generation payment, expanding eligibility for the LMI income benefits adder from 200% to 225% of the federal poverty level, creating a new upfront incentive programs for LMI customers and residential battery storage, and building solar for schools programs, as promoted by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center’s The 50 Solar States: Q3 Quarterly ReportOctober 2022
In May of this year, the Sunflower Solar Station, named for the province where it is located, was completed. Said to be the largest in the state, the 100 MW solar installation is being built by Recurrent Energy, a subsidiary of Canadian Solar. The plant will provide enough clean energy to power 16,000 homes in Entergy Mississippi’s territory, and is one of the first utility scale solar projects to be built under a Build Transfer Agreement (BTA) in the United States and is the first BTA signed by Recurrent Strong. The BTA signed with Entergy Mississippi in 2018 stipulates that the utility will own the project once it begins commercial operation.
With the completion of Sunflower, along with the state’s recent expansion of the state’s two largest utilities, Mississippi is on track to meet—and possibly exceed—SEIA’s forecast for an additional 2.3 GW in the next five years.
The next stop at pv magazine tour of the 50 states of solar incentives is Oklahoma.
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