John Conner Jr., the prominent Newport farmer and multifaceted businessman, is known for growing things while the sun shines.
But did you know a stretch of his vast land holdings along 4 miles of U.S. 67 north of Newport will soon be used in making power from the sun?
Conner, chairman of Greenway Equipment of Weiner (Poinsett County) and one of the region’s biggest soybean and rice farm landowners with Holden-Conner Farms, is putting about 2,000 acres of that ground to use as the site of a vast solar power array.
Conner, also a principal of Holden-Conner Realty Co. in Newport, has been working on the project with Moss Solar of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and CMS Energy of Michigan.
“Yes, the big solar array on 67 is John Conner’s land,” said Jon Chadwell, director of economic development for the Newport Economic Development Commission.
The array will take up nearly 2,000 acres and have a capacity of about 238 megawatts when completed, possibly by the fourth quarter of this year, Chadwell said. “Moss Solar is the construction company and CMS Energy is owner of the array.”
Moss is building the plant for CMS, a subsidiary of CMS Energy of Jackson, Michigan. CMS Energy, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, operates Consumers Energy, an investor-owned utility with 6 million electricity/natural gas consumers in Michigan. In 2022, CMS had revenue of $8.6 billion.
Conner land also played a role in the placement of Newport’s medical marijuana cultivator. Delta Medical Cannabis Co. bought its 5-acre site at 3698 Rice Road from Holden Conner Land II LLC for $218,000, according to Jackson County records.