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Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 9:26am

$1.4 B Solar Project May Land In Ga.

Two south Georgia counties are among seven sites being considered for construction of what would be the world’s largest solar farm.

Sumter and Tatnall counties are in the running for a $1.4 billion, 400 megawatt project to be built by Florida-based National Solar Power. Four other sites are being considered in Florida, with one other in North Carolina. When construction, company officials say it would surpass the size of the world's current largest in Ontario.

David Garriga is director of the Americus-Sumter Payroll Development Authority. He says the winning site will have the best mix of available land, state and local government support, and qualified workforce:

“Companies tend to be mean-and-lean these days. They want to make sure when they move to a community…invest in a community it has the assets that can sustain them long term. That is more critical today than it was five years ago even.”

Garriga says talks with company officials are in the "very preliminary" stages.

What does the Georgia Solar Energy Association think about perhaps landing the project?

“It would certainly shine a spotlight on Georgia.”, says Joy Kramer, director of programs for the Association.

“A project of this magnitude would be a great cache for the state, but with that in mind we know that real long term jobs are not created by one big project, but rather many, many smaller projects distributed throughout the state.”

Just last year, Georgia’s solar industry got a boost when German manufacturer MAGE solar opened a facility in Dublin.

Kramer says Georgia’s solar industry is still in its infancy. But she says legislation signed this year by Governor Deal to give businesses and individuals solar tax incentives should help the industry grow.

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