DeSoto I Solar Farm Delivers 125 MW to the Grid
Nashville-based Silicon Ranch is one of the country’s largest independent power producers, with a portfolio that includes more than five gigawatts of solar and battery storage systems that are contracted, under construction, or operating across the U.S. and Canada. Silicon Ranch developed and funded the DeSoto I Solar Farm and will continue to own, operate, and maintain the facility for the long-term, a disciplined approach Silicon Ranch takes with every project it develops. The company has the largest utility scale agrivoltaics portfolio in the country under Regenerative Energy®, its nationally recognized holistic approach to project design, construction, and land management.
In 2018, a large corporate renewable energy buyer committed to powering 100% of its Georgia data center operations with renewable energy contracted Walton EMC, a consumer-owned utility with a reputation for energy innovation. Walton EMC partnered with Silicon Ranch to fund, build, own, operate, and maintain a portfolio of projects in rural counties across the state to generate the needed carbon-free power, bringing significant investment to these counties. DeSoto I is the first phase of a three-phase project in Lee County included in this portfolio. As the selected developer and operator, Silicon Ranch looked for a partner to construct a high-performing solar energy facility on time, on budget, and with respect to the environment and community members.
The Silicon Ranch team chose Black & Veatch as their construction partner because of their confidence in our abilities to deliver this impactful project within their short time frame. Our team provided site analysis and permitting, procurement and construction services, and full integration with existing power transmission networks. Black & Veatch’s unmatched history of delivering solar projects on time and within budget enabled us to procure the most efficient and cost-effective products for the DeSoto I Solar Ranch.
“As renewable energy continues to progress in a world rapidly focusing on decarbonization, this effort further demonstrates how carbon footprints can be minimized without disrupting the surrounding ecosystem. This project aligns with our proven record of innovative approaches to delivering clean, affordable energy.”
-- Frederick Poetter, Vice President of Renewable Solutions, Black & Veatch
Clean, resilient energy. The DeSoto I property spans over 2,000 acres with over 1,000 acres under solar panels and millions of feet of wire connecting to the substation. The project delivers 125 megawatts to the electric grid, intended to generate clean energy for the next four decades. (To put this in perspective, 125 megawatts is enough electricity to power over 13,000 average U.S. homes annually.)
Preservation of resources. DeSoto I Solar Farm integrates Silicon Ranch’s holistic approach to project design, construction, and land management: Regenerative Energy®. Silicon Ranch will employ in-house shepherds and a company-owned flock of sheep to manage plant growth and restore soil health, biodiversity, and water quality. The company is also restoring and repurposing the property’s historic homestead as a ranching training center, and has protected and preserved the site’s majestic 200-year-old oak trees.
Positive community impact. Silicon Ranch and Black & Veatch are committed to creating economic opportunities for the rural community of Lee County through the DeSoto Solar Ranch. Our team communicates frequently with community members to promote job opportunities. Black & Veatch prioritized hiring local craft professionals for Phase 1 of the project, inviting community members to take pride in what we’re building together. Silicon Ranch will focus recruitment for their in-house land management and shepherd teams from the local community and train new staff in regenerative land management practices.
“As the long-term owner and operator of our projects, Silicon Ranch is committed to supporting the communities we serve, and we’re pleased to work with Black & Veatch to execute this vision in Lee County. Thousands of Georgia residents have already helped us build more than a dozen world-class facilities in the region, and we will work with Black & Veatch and our partners in Lee County to recruit local talent for DeSoto I as well.”
--Reagan Farr, CEO and Co-Founder, Silicon Ranch
Black & Veatch came on board in October 2021, and our team completed the first phase of the DeSoto project at the end of 2022. Our ongoing partnership with Silicon Ranch is helping to accelerate the project schedule for future phases and proactively mitigate challenges. We leveraged our ongoing site presence to prepare for Phase II of the project well in advance and will utilize existing laydown areas, wells, and other infrastructure as needed. Due to supply chain issues, we have strategically engaged with major vendors to order long-lead items ahead of schedule.
Black & Veatch looks forward to our continued relationship with Silicon Ranch on the DeSoto Solar Farm construction and beyond. Learn more about Black & Veatch’s solar and other renewable energy capabilities here.