Construction on the largest solar generation facility in the United States is well underway with the full operation of the Sampson Solar Energy project in southeastern Lamar and northwestern Red River counties to be in full operation by the end of 2023.
Our construction teams are doing excellent work to keep the project moving forward,” Renewable Development Director Bristi Cure said of the Invenergy Corp project. “Our teams are prepared for the ebbs and flows of construction and take weather into account during planning.”
Current-ly there are over 600 people working on site doing everything from building roads to stringing transmission lines. When completed, the project is expected to add roughly $450 million to the local economy.
“The posts and racking that hold the solar panels have been installed, and we recently began installing the panels for the first Samson project phase west of Cunningham,” Cure said. “Invenergy is excited about the progress of the Samson site.”
Located on roughly 18,000 acres, the Samson projects consist of Samson I, capable of producing 250 megawatts of electricity, Samson II, 200 megawatts, Samson III, 250 megawatts, Delilah I, 300 megawatts and Delilah II, 310 megawatts. Together the projects are expected to produce enough electricity to power 300,000 homes.
The phases are contracted to sell power to multiple entities to include household names such as AT&T, Honda, McDonald’s, Google, The Home Depot, Bryan Texas Utilities, the City of Denton, Texas A&M and Garland Power & Light.
Each of the projects is being built in staggered order based on specific agreements to sell the electricity, Cure said. Each of the five phases has its own construction schedule and will begin operation as completed with the entire project expected to be operational by the end of 2023.
Cure spoke about the lifespan of solar projects, noting that leases with landowners are for 25 years with an option for a 25-year renewal.
“The expected lifespan for our solar panels is 30 years, and we are always looking for new and innovative technology that is clean and more efficient that could extend that lifespan,” Cure said. “By weight, more than 80% of the material in solar panels is glass and aluminum – both common and easy-to-recycle materials.”
When questioned about the reason Invenergy chose Lamar and Red River counties for the location of the mammoth project, Cure said the days of sunlight received each year, the friendly Texas business environment and the support of the local community were key factors.
“It was also attractive for its proximity to load centers and transmission lines,” Cure said, explaining that a transmission line connects all five phases to the electric grid in Franklin County.