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Luminant plans solar farm project south of Longview

Source: 
Longview News-Journal

CARTHAGE - Luminant plans to build a new solar farm on the site of its retired Oak Hill lignite mine south of Longview and on the west side of Martin Lake Power Plant.

The plans for the solar farm are part of a wider push by Dallas power company Luminant for more renewable energy. Luminant's parent company, Vistra announced, at the end of September plans for seven renewable projects to be built in Texas, said Meranda Cohn, director of media relations.

The new Oak Hill Solar Facility is expected to go online in 2022 in the Texas Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market and will be 200 megawatts, Cohn said. One megawatt is able to power about 500 homes during normal weather conditions. The Longview area is not part of ERCOT.

Luminant officials did not have details on the total cost of the solar farm project or the number of people the facility would employ when operational.

The Oak Hill lignite mine, one of several mines along the border of Rusk and Panola counties that are owned by Luminant, shut down in December 2016 because of coal-fired plants losing market share to more efficient gas-power plants and struggling to meet environmental regulations, leading to less demand for coal. The closure resulted in 132 layoffs.

Vistra's other solar farm projects in Texas include facilities in Andrews, Live Oak, Crane and Upton counties that are expected to be online in 2021 and facilities in Hood and Henderson counties expected to be operational in 2022. The company also said it plans to close seven Luminant coal plants in Illinois and Ohio by 2027.

"Importantly, Vistra's leadership on these issues will not impact our core mission to provide consumers with reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy while lowering emissions," said Curt Morgan, president and CEO of Vistra. "Electricity is an essential resource, and the demand for it will continue to grow as climate initiatives are implemented and the economy is further electrified. So, while the way we produce electricity is changing, our essential role in the process and core mission will not.

"Vistra is well-positioned to not only prove our resiliency during this important transformation to cleaner generation sources, but to lead the way. Our value proposition has never been stronger, and our sustainability has never been clearer. We are confident over time that the severe under-valuation of our stock price will be recognized, and our fair value achieved."

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