The Tennessee Valley Authority, local power company BrightRidge and Nashville-based solar developer Silicon Ranch held a ceremony in early June to break ground on a new solar farm in Washington County, Tennessee. The 9-megawatt (MWAC) facility will be named Martin Solar Farm and is expected to be operational before the end of the year.
The project will be the first ever constructed in the Tennessee Valley under TVA’s new Generation Flexibility program, which is designed to encourage local power companies (LPCs) to develop new distributed generation facilities to meet community needs, attract new businesses and grow renewable energy at the local level.
“Our long-term partnership agreement enables TVA to work with our local power company partners to meet the needs of their customers and the communities they serve in a sustainable and effective way,” said Chris Hansen, vice president, TVA Origination & Renewables. “Generation Flexibility was introduced last June as another tool local power companies can use to grow renewable energy in their service areas.”
TVA east region director of customer relations Amy Edge applauded BrightRidge for again being first to break ground on a leading-edge local power company generation project.
“This project is just the first of many successes we hope to have with our local power company partners,” said Edge. “It is no surprise to those of us familiar with the innovative and visionary bent of BrightRidge leadership and their commitment to serving customers and community, that they are the first out of the gate to break ground with a Generation Flexibility solar project.”
Martin Solar Farm is part of TVA’s long-term effort to reduce its environmental impact by diversifying its generation portfolio while maintaining affordable rates and reliability. Energy produced by the facility will be offered first to local K-12 and post-secondary education systems interested in offsetting their electricity needs with cleaner energy sources.
“TVA is a low-cost carbon reduction leader, and it takes partners like BrightRidge and Silicon Ranch to help us transition into a cleaner energy future,” said Doug Perry, senior vice president, TVA Commercial Energy Solutions. “TVA plans to achieve a 70 percent carbon reduction by 2030, and BrightRidge’s Martin Solar Farm will be a beacon to attract jobs and investment into the community.”
“BrightRidge is honored to continue to lead the region in distributed solar generation, thanks to partnership agreements with TVA and Silicon Ranch,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said. “These partnerships provide our customers with an efficient way to access clean energy benefits at scale while avoiding the long-term costs of individually owned and operated facilities. At the same time, we know access to clean energy is a key long-term driver of economic opportunity in our region.”
Silicon Ranch expects to invest several million dollars in private capital to build the Martin Solar Farm and will own and operate the array. The project will be the second solar generation facility on the BrightRidge system built in partnership with Silicon Ranch and TVA. In 2019 the partners commissioned the Telford Solar Farm under the former TVA Distributed Solar Solutions program.
“Silicon Ranch is honored to expand our partnership with BrightRidge through this landmark project, and we applaud TVA for empowering all LPCs to leverage low-cost renewable energy to meet customer needs and recruit new business,” said Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and Chairman Matt Kisber.
TVA and local power company partners are utilizing renewable energy, especially large-scale solar projects, to uniquely meet multiple objectives core to the public power model: aligning the demand for clean, cost-competitive energy with solar projects that positively impact the local economy by attracting sustainability-focused businesses, investments and job creation. Silicon Ranch expects to hire approximately 150 craft workers—with a focus on hiring from the local community and surrounding region. In addition, Silicon Ranch will contribute significant tax revenues that are accretive to the local tax base and help support the local school district.