"SunRiser" is the most coveted designation from our annual "Solar in the Southeast" report. This title applies to the seven utilities exhibiting the largest increase in watts per customer solar ratio comparing the prior year with our four-year forward forecast.Bryan Jacob | June 29, 2021
SunRiser is the most coveted designation from our fourth annual “Solar in the Southeast” report. This title applies to the seven utilities exhibiting the largest increase in watts per customer (W/C) solar ratio comparing the prior year with our four-year forward forecast. In this case, comparing 2020 to 2024.
There are two new SunRisers this year: Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) and Mississippi Power appear on that list for the first time.
KUB burst onto the scene with two, major solar announcements totaling 502 MW. First projects in Tennessee and Mississippi for 212 MW; followed by two more projects in Mississippi plus one in Tennessee for a total of 290 MW.
When KUB made this announcement in April, it appeared the utility might not only make it onto the SunRiser list but might earn the top slot. Competition at the top is very tight; even prior leaders must continue to scale up their own ambition or risk being surpassed. In this case, Walton EMC has additional projects in its pipeline — sufficient to relegate KUB to the second slot.
Mississippi Power also earned SunRiser status for the first time. Two 78.5 MW projects (Moonshot and Cane Creek solar) were recently approved to deliver wholesale power to the Southern Company transmission grid. These will effectively double the solar ratio for Mississippi Power by 2024.
No longer a SunRiser
If there are two new entries, that also implies two prior SunRisers have dropped from the list. Duke Energy Progress and Dominion Energy South Carolina (formerly South Carolina Electric & Gas) had both been on the list for the prior three annual reports and now find themselves still with very respectable solar ratios, but below the threshold as SunRisers for 2020-2024.
That leaves Tampa Electric as the only utility to earn the SunRiser designation all four years of reporting.
Utilities must serve a minimum of 100,000 customers in order to be eligible to earn the SunRiser distinction. But we did also acknowledge Starkville Electric Department, located in Starkville, Mississippi. This utility serves less than 14,000 customers but commissioned 30 MW of solar (that should supply ~15% of the city’s annual electricity consumption) as part of a “Green Invest” project. By 2024, that will yield one of the highest solar ratios in the Southeast, yet the utility is too small to be considered as a SunRiser.
SACE uses the SunRiser designation to illustrate the kind of solar ambition that should be expected from all utilities across the Southeast. These seven SunRisers are positioning themselves as leaders in the transition to 100% clean electricity.
Stay tuned for more blogs in the series and find more report resources below.