Two years ago, local officials approved a plan to build a 20-megawatt solar farm along both sides of the still-in-progress extension of Iron Mountain Road north of Anniston.
Today there’s a broad strip of dirt visible from Alabama 21, showing clearly the path Iron Mountain Road will take. But there’s no clear sign of solar panel construction by the road.
“We are in a holding pattern and Alabama Power is doing research on best options for solar program(s),” Steve Ivey, president of Simon Solar, wrote in a text message.
In 2017 Ivey asked the Anniston City Council to support his company’s plan to construct three 20-megawatt solar arrays on landfill properties in the former fort. The plan was to sell that power, most likely to Alabama Power, the utility that serves the area and most of the state.
“A megawatt is enough to serve about 250 typical Alabama homes,” Jacki-Lynn Lowry, a spokeswoman for Alabama Power, wrote in an email to The Star last week.
Lowry said Alabama Power issued a request for proposal for renewable energy projects in 2018. A request for proposal, or RFP, is a document that solicits proposals to provide a certain good or service, in this case solar energy.
“At this point the process is still ongoing and we are not under contract with any developer on a project,” wrote Lowry.
Julie Moss, director of the McClellan Development Authority, declined to comment when asked about the project.
Ivey said in a text message he also could provide no official comment “as not to jeopardize the project in Anniston in any way.”
Lowry said the project was initially called the Energy Surety Partners and was a bid on a previous RFP Alabama Power put out in 2016. The project was not selected at the time, but was revamped to bid for the 2018 RFP under the name Southern Current.
“The process of pulling a project together is in-depth and takes time,” Lowry wrote. “For example, some portions of the planning can take over a year.”