The U.S. Army and Georgia Power cut a ribbon Friday on a new 250-acre solar farm on Fort Stewart that is expected to ultimately provide almost a third of the post’s electricity each year.
The 30-megawatt solar farm was built and is owned and operated by Georgia Power, and "is estimated to represent a $75 million investment at the installation," according to the company. It includes approximately 139,200 4-foot by 6-foot solar panels and is capable of powering 4,300 homes a year.
The solar farm is expected to go into operation by the spring, according to Fort Stewart.
Among those present at Friday’s ribbon cutting was Katherine Hammack, the Army’s assistant secretary for installations, energy and the environment. She said the solar farm is cost effective, environmentally safe and supports the Army in its mission while reducing its reliance on the power grid.
"What this means is resiliency for the Army," said Hammack, one of several officials who spoke at the groundbreaking.
Fort Stewart and 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Jim Rainey also spoke.
"I am clearly both the least knowledgeable person on this topic and the least responsible for this great success," Rainey said. "And based on that I defer most of my time to our great teammates."
But before he stepped away from the microphone, the post’s top officer talked about relationships.
"I heard it said relationships are the No. 1 determiner of quality of life. I didn’t know that. I do know they’re the No. 1 determiner of success on the battlefield, and probably the No. 1 reason this is the best place I ever served in the Army," Rainey said. "I know every guy says that who’s here, but I mean it. You’ve just got to take my word for it. I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve been to some great places. But I’ve never been anywhere where the community, local leadership, elected and private, could come together and do something so effortlessly of such significance."
Also speaking was Public Service Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, who called the solar farm here part of a renaissance that includes two nuclear energy plants currently under construction "that will carry energy for the next 60 to 80 years."
This is the third 30-megawatt solar farm being built by Georgia Power on an Army base in the state. The company has also built similar facilities on Fort Gordon in Augusta and Fort Benning in Columbus, and has worked with the Department of the Navy to build a solar farm at the Kings Bay submarine base.
A fifth solar farm for the Marines Corps Logistics Base in Albany is also under way, according to Georgia Power.
Dan Scott and Jeff Whitten contributed to this report.