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Despite local opposition, Hinds County...

Despite local opposition, Hinds County Supervisors approve solar farm project

By: Frank Corder - June 17, 2024

  • Two former PSC Commissioners received campaign donations from the company behind the 6,500-acre project in 2020 and 2023.

What’s being touted as the largest solar farm in the state of Mississippi is coming to Hinds County after the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve the project. The county’s planning board had previously denied the project unanimously.

District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham, District 2 Supervisor Tony Smith and District 4 Supervisor Wanda Evers each supported the project while District 3 Supervisor Deborah Butler-Dixon and District 5 Supervisor Bobby McGowan voted in opposition.

Dozens of protestors in opposition to the 6,500-acre project camped outside of the Hinds County courthouse early Monday morning before filing into the supervisors’ chambers. They expressed concerns over chemicals used for the solar farm invading neighboring properties as well as disrupting the natural landscape of the area.

An online petition against the project was posted online, drawing nearly 800 people to sign on. Allison Lauderdale of Raymond writes on the petition, “While we support the transition to renewable energy sources and recognize the importance of sustainable development, we believe that the installation of large-scale solar farms in our community will have several adverse effects that must be carefully considered.” She goes on to list visual and aesthetic concerns, agricultural land use, property values and more.

(Photo from Soul City Solar)

The project, which has been in the works for quite some time, will place a new solar farm on a site between Bolton and Raymond that is expected to generate enough energy to power over 95,000 homes per year, according to Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Virginia, the company developing the site.

Referred to as “Soul City Solar,” a reference to the capital city of Jackson, the company claims the project will be a new source of economic development for Hinds County with up to $150 million in new, long-term tax revenue for local schools and county services.

“The power from Soul City Solar will be delivered into the local Mississippi electrical grid, helping to diversify the state’s energy portfolio,” the company states in its website for the project. “Solar power is one of the most cost-effective sources of electricity available today, and its ability to generate power at peak times helps reduce electricity costs for all consumers.”

The company plans to start construction on the site this year as area property owners have reportedly already agreed to terms. Up to 400 workers are expected to be utilized during the construction process.

Since the relatively new Public Service Commission could find this project on their agenda at some point, Central District Public Service Commissioner DeKeither Stamps (D) was cautious in his comments regarding the project after the county’s vote.

“We need to be prudent in every type of power generation that we put in place,” Stamps told Magnolia Tribune on Monday. He came into office in January of this year.

His predecessor, former Central District Public Service Commissioner Brent Bailey took a campaign donation from Apex Clean Energy during his re-election bid last year. Bailey, a Republican who lost to Stamps, received $1,000 from Apex Clean Energy Holdings, LLC in March 2023.

Another former Public Service Commissioner also previously received a campaign donation from the company. Brandon Presley, the former Northern District Commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for Governor as the Democratic nominee in 2023, received $1,000 from the Apex Clean Energy, Inc PAC in February 2020.

Stamps, nor the other two new PSC Commissioners Chris Brown and Wayne Carr are not listed as having received donations from the company.

County-level campaign finance reports were not immediately available for review.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: