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Robins solar project behind schedule but ‘moving forward’

WARNER ROBINS -- A year ago, Robins Air Force Base announced a large solar project that was supposed to be operational by now. But so far all that’s happened is the clearing of 57 acres of forest.

The base referred questions about the project to the Air Force Civil Engineering Center in San Antonio, Texas. A spokesman there said the project “is moving forward” but did not give a date for when construction might begin.

The base announced the project last July. A month later, bulldozers cleared a tract on the south end of the base, next to Ga. 247, to make way for the array expected to produce 10 megawatts of power.

Construction was supposed to have started soon after that with the array operating by this past January.

New Generation Power was to be the builder, and Georgia Power was going to buy the electricity. The benefit to Robins was that the base would get revenue from leasing the property to New Generation Power, and it would get credits for meeting renewable energy mandates.

Mark Kinkade, acting chief of public affairs for the Air Force Civil Engineering Center, said in an email that the agreement announced last year was not the final lease, which has yet to be signed. The agreement signed last year, he said, spelled out conditions that must be met before the final lease was signed, and one of those was that the trees were to be cleared from the site.

“Despite the extended timeline, the project is moving forward,” Kinkade said in the email.

He did not elaborate on why the agreement hasn’t yet been signed.

Phone calls and emails to New Generation Power, which is based in Chicago, were not returned last week. The company’s website describes it as “a global developer, investor, owner and operator of infrastructure assets.”

The site has a listing of its projects worldwide that includes the Robins project. The listing gives Jan. 1, 2015, as the date the project was to be operational, but it does not include any further update.

John Kraft, spokesman for Georgia Power, said in an email that New Generation Power has “failed to meet their contractual obligations with Georgia Power.” He said he could not elaborate any further.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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