Mississippi Power is engaged in finding practical renewable generation options for our region. We are partnering with Southern Company and other groups to research and evaluate the development of those sources in our area that show promise for producing cost-effective and reliable energy. We are also working with customers to identify renewable options and technologies for their homes and businesses.
As Mississippi's largest partner in renewable energy, we're proud to support the state's economy and solar growth. Solar generation is a cost effective power source that stabilizes prices for our customers and benefits the environment.
We are collaborating with four solar energy businesses and the U.S. Navy on four utility-scale solar facilities in the company's service territory, generating more than 160 MW of electricity, enough to power more than 23,000 homes for a full year.
Mississippi Power Utility-Scale Facilities
Mississippi Power receives the solar energy and renewable energy credits generated by these facilities, which we can use to serve our customers or sell to third parties for the benefit of customers.
The renewable resource that shows the most promise in the Southeast and Mississippi Power's service area is the use of biomass. The use of biomass reduces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions compared with coal, plus the renewable energy source absorbs carbon dioxide from the air as it grows.
For almost 15 years, Southern Company and Mississippi Power have focused renewable research on biomass power — specifically co-firing and re-powering existing plants. Switchgrass, sawdust, and wood chips have all been tested as a fuel source.
Engineering and cost studies have also been conducted to determine the feasibility of converting certain older plants for biomass firing.
Re-powering an existing plant typically results in the loss of about 50 percent of its generating capacity due to the low heating value of biomass compared to natural gas or coal. Other limiting factors of biomass include availability, transportation, and storage.
Mississippi's potential for wind power generation is relatively small given the available consistent wind energy in our state. Southern Company will continue to pursue the potential for development of feasible wind energy generation in coastal areas. The advent of lower-speed and more hurricane-tolerant wind turbine designs may overcome economic and technological hurdles. With community support, wind energy may yet someday contribute to the energy needs of the Southeast.