Plan’s for the nation’s largest solar energy farm in Texas

Arthur Murray / February 4th, 2021

The nation's largest solar farm will take shape in Texas.

Texas is continually a leader in energy, so it’s no surprise that the nation’s largest solar energy farm is now being constructed there.  The Lone Star state currently leads the U.S. in wind and overall power generation and is now working its way up in solar.

The new 1,310-megawatt solar energy farm, which will be known as the Samson Solar Energy Center, is being created by Chicago-based developer Invenenergy thanks to a $1.6 billion capital investment. It will be built in five phases over a three-year period with an estimated completion date of 2023.

Invenergy started construction on the project in July 2020. When completed, it will surpass the 690-megawatt Gemini project, which is currently the largest solar project planned for the U.S.

“Invenergy continues to lead the energy transition, and this record-setting project demonstrates our expertise at a new scale,” Ted Romaine, senior vice president of origination at Invenergy, said in a press release describing the project. “The Samson Solar Energy Center is the latest example of what can be achieved when companies and utilities seek an innovative partner to meet their sustainability goals and invest in a clean energy future.”

Where it’s being built

The record-breaking solar giant is being constructed in northeast Texas in Lamar, Red River and Franklin Counties. HDR Inc. has been selected as the owner’s engineer on the project, which will supply energy to five large consumer brands and three municipalities. It will also generate enough power to serve 300,000 homes. The project is expected to bring 600 jobs to Texas during its construction phase, more than $250 million in landowner payments and $200 million in property taxes.

Invenergy has contracted more than 3,500 megawatts of wind and solar capacity in six U.S. markets and in Mexico to date. The company says this new project will offer Lone Star residents cleaner, more-cost effective energy via agreements with companies including AT&T, Honda, McDonald’s, Google, and The Home Depot, among others. A large portion of the solar farm’s power will go to telecommunications powerhouse AT&T, who has signed an agreement for 500 megawatts of capacity – which is said to be a record purchase for the U.S. in the commercial and industrial realm.

Where the energy will go

Scott Mair, president of AT&T Technology & Operations, has said AT&T is participating in the project as they “believe renewable energy is good for the planet, for our business, and for the communities we serve.” Maier added, “With more than 1.5 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, our portfolio delivers clean electricity to the grid, helps to create jobs and community benefits, and supports the transition to a low-carbon economy. We’re excited to participate in Invenergy’s Samson project through the largest corporate solar energy deal in the U.S.”

AT&T announced that it is committed to reaching net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions across its entire global operations by 2035 in September 2020. In a press release on its website, AT&T said the Invenenergy deal brings its company closer to this goal for a carbon neutral future. “The addition of solar energy to our renewable energy portfolio is an important piece of our journey to reach carbon neutrality across our global operations by 2035,” AT&T said.

 Additional purchase agreements secured for the Samson Solar Energy Center include Honda (200 MW), McDonalds (160 MW) the city of Bryan, Texas, (150 MW), Google (100 MW), the city of Denton (75 MW), Home Depot (50 MW), and the city of Garland (25 MW). Contract price details have not been released. For more information on the project, click here.

Jackie Whetzel is a freelance writer who has been featured in newspapers and publications across the country. She has written on the topics of energy, education, government, and business. You can find her on Instagram.

@wipaone/Twenty20

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