Black Bear Solar begins generating electricity

The project is the largest solar farm in the state to date

Officials from Montgomery County, the state, Lightsource bp and the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority celebrate the start of electricity being generated at Black Bear Solar farm.

Lightsource bp and the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority celebrated the dedication of Black Bear Solar, the state’s largest solar farm that will produce 130 MWdc/100 MWac.

Located 15 miles from AMEA’s headquarters in Montgomery, Black Bear Solar will deliver solar energy to AMEA under a 20-year power sales agreement from Lightsource bp. With the volatility in the natural gas market, the contract is estimated to save AMEA a minimum of $40 million over the initial 20-year period.

“AMEA is saving money with a home-grown, renewable resource that helps us provide dependable, economical power to our communities,” said Fred Clark Jr., president and CEO of AMEA. “Combined with a fixed price contract for electricity from Black Bear Solar for the next 20 years, we’re building more long-term stability and diversity into our energy portfolio.”

Alabama Municipal Electric Authority Chairman Gary Fuller (left) speaks with Lightsource bp Americas CEO Kevin Smith (center) shortly after cutting the ribbon at Black Bear Solar (in background). Fred Clark, (right) president and CEO of AMEA, also was on hand for the event.

Black Bear Solar uses 280,000 ultra-low carbon solar panels manufactured by Arizona-based First Solar, solar trackers manufactured by New Mexico-based Array Technologies and foundational piles on which the trackers sit manufactured by Mississippi-based Attala Steel. More than 400 people worked to construct the facility.

“This project is a great example of how solar is a job engine for Americans,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource bp Americas. “Black Bear Solar created hundreds of U.S. jobs across the supply chain, supporting domestic manufacturing and helping build long-term careers for our clean energy future.”

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Montgomery County Commission and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce were partners in the project. The project is expected to contribute more than $7 million in property tax revenue to county schools over the life of the project.

“This project will provide considerable support to Montgomery County schools, dollars the school system otherwise would not receive. This is a major economic development project for the rural part of our county with our strong corporate partner in Lightsource bp,” said Doug Singleton, Montgomery County Commission chair.

The Black Bear Solar project is in commissioning and currently generating electricity into the grid. It will be fully operational in November.

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